View Adopted: 2021.07.23
Author is a Belarussian national. On the 64th anniversary of the UDHR, he and others displayed portraits of Ales Belyatsky in the city of Grodno. Photos of the author and others holding the portraits were uploaded online. The author was arrested for and convicted of organising an unlicensed public event. No witnesses other than police were called at the trial, and the police did not witness the events. Author complains of violations of articles 2(1) and (3), 14(1), 19, and 26 of the Convention.
The Committee recognised that the author failed to substantiate claims under articles 14(1) in conjunction with article 2(1) and (3) and article 26. This aspect of the communication was thus deemed inadmissible. Nonetheless, the committee deemed the claim under article 19 to be substantiated and thus admissible.
The Committee found that the State Party failed to invoke any grounds under which they were authorised to restrict the freedom of expression, as required by article 19 (3). Further, the State Party failed to demonstrate that the restrictions were proportionate and the minimum restrictions required to achieve a permitted objective. As such, a violation of the author’s rights under article 19 occurred.
The State party is obligated, inter alia, 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, in particular by reviewing its national legislation on public events and the implementation thereof in order to make it compatible with its obligations under article 2 (2) to adopt measures able to give effect to the rights recognized by article 19.
The State Party is to communicate with the Committee within 180 days concerning the measures it has taken following the Committee’s decision.
By Justin Golden