View Adopted: 2020.03.13
The author is a national of Belarus who claims that his rights under article 19 (2) of (3) of the Covenant have been violated.
On 15 July 2013, the author submitted an application with the request to hold on 17 and 18 August 2013, a one-person picket in Soviet Army Park, aimed at informing inhabitants of the Vitebsk region about the systematic violation of his rights by various State agencies. The author was refused on the grounds that he had failed to attach to his request for authorization contracts with the respective services for maintenance of the public order and provision of medical services during the event and for the cleaning of the area after the event. The author in his following appeals maintains that he had exhausted all domestic remedies.
In light of the above, the author claims that Belarus has violated his right to the freedom of expression owing to restrictions that were not necessary under article 19 (3) of the Covenant.
The Committee regretted the State party’s lack of cooperation in asserting that it will no longer engage in correspondence regarding this communication owing to there being no legal grounds for consideration. It recalled that it is up to the Committee to determine whether a communication should be registered. By failing to accept the competence of the Committee in this manner, the Committee noted that the State party is violating its obligations under article 1 of the Optional Protocol.
In the Committee’s opinion, the actions of the authorities, irrespective of their legal qualification under domestic law, amount to a restriction of the author’s rights, in particular the right to impart information and ideas of any kind, as protected by article 19. In the present case, the Committee considered that the prohibitions imposed on the author, although based on domestic law, cannot be seen as justified for the purposes of article 19 (3) of the Covenant. In light of this, the Committee considered that the author had violated the author’s rights under article 19 (2) of the Covenant.
Pursuant to article 2 (3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy. This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is obligated, inter alia, to take appropriate steps to provide the author with adequate compensation and reimbursement of his court expenses, and to take steps to prevent similar violations occurring in the future. In that connection, the Committee reiterates that the State party should revise its normative framework, consistent with its obligation under article 2 (2) of the Covenant, in particular decision No. 881 of the Vitebsk City Executive Committee and the Public Events Act, as it has been applied in the present case, with a view to ensuring that the rights under article 19 of the Covenant may be fully enjoyed in the State party.