View Adopted: 2021.03.25
The author is a national of Belarus who claims that the State Party has violated his rights under article 19 of the Covenant. The author was distributing political leaflets in an apartment building. On the same day, the police arrested the author for having committed a violation of the legislation on illegal distribution of foreign mass media materials of a political nature. On 5th September 2013, the author was found guilty and was sentenced to a fine in the amount of 2 million roubles (approx. $220). The author claims that by sentencing to a fine, the State party violated his right to freedom of expression under article 19 of the Covenant. He maintains that the leaflets contained no information that could limit the rights of others, be of offence, or disrespect the professional reputation of public officials.
All claims of admissibility are sufficiently sustained despite the State party arguing that the author did not exhaust domestic remedies. This is because the Committee finds that further prospects of justice in Belarus would not constitute an effective remedy.
The Committee observed that the State party had failed to invoke any specific article 19(3) grounds to support the necessity or proportionality of the restrictions imposed on the author, as well as his apprehension and administrative fine. The Committee found that the actions of the State party could not be justified. The Committee concluded that the author’s rights under article 19(2) had been violated.
The State party is obligated, inter alia, to :
take appropriate steps to provide the author with adequate compensation, including to reimburse the fine and any legal costs incurred by the author in relation to the domestic proceedings.
The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.
Deadline to provide follow-up report: 25.09.2021
Author: Laura Cestaro