View Adopted: 2021.03.25
Author is a Belarussian national and a member of an opposition political party. During parliamentary elections, he submitted a campaign message which criticised allegedly unfair elections to Belarusian state media. In accordance with the Belarussian Electoral Code, all parties ought to have equal media access. Nonetheless, the state media channels declined to circulate the author’s message. Belarussian courts refused to hear the author’s case on grounds that they lack jurisdiction. The author contended violations of his rights under article 14 (1), 19, 25 and 26 of the Convention.
The communication was deemed inadmissible it its entirety. Article 14 (1) is applicable to a “suit at law”, which is intended to encompass private and administrative law matters. It does not pertain to election law, and as such, the portion of the communication pertaining to article 14 (1) is inadmissible. The State Party emphasised that the author did not exhaust all domestic remedies by virtue of not having filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office for review, following the passage of the judgement. The Committee has found, however, that such a procedure is ineffective and that the author’s having exhausted his right of appeal before domestic courts is sufficient for purposes of passing scrutiny under article 5 (2) (b) of the Optional Protocol. However, the Committee found that the author’s remaining claims were inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol for being too general in nature and without sufficient substantiation, in light of the general legality of the newspapers’ decision not to circulate the message.
By Justin Golden