View Adopted: 2021.07.23
Authors are Belarusian nationals. They sought permission from local authorities to hold a picket, but this request was denied, as local city law requires contracts with emergency medical services and road maintenance services. Belarusian courts dismissed the authors' protests. Authors contend that their rights under articles 2 (2) and (3), 19 and 21 of the Covenant were violated.
The author contended that article 2 (2) of the Convention was violated in conjunction with articles 19 and 21. The Committee emphasised that a violation of article 2 (2) in conjunction with another Convention provision would be redundant, and found this portion of the communication to be inadmissible. Further, the committee found the alleged violation of articles 19 and 21 read in conjunction with article 2 (3) to be inadmissible due to a lack of substantiation. Nonetheless, the committee found the alleged violations of articles 19(2) and 21 themselves to be substantiated and ultimately 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. Further, the restrictions were not so as to be necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, public safety, or public order, and as such a breach of article 21 further occurred. The Committee additionally noted that requirements to contract with emergency services, etcetera, to hold protests are generally incompatible with article 21.
The State party is obligated, inter alia, to provide the authors with adequate compensation. The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. In that connection, the Committee notes that the State party should revise its normative framework on public events, consistent with its obligation under article 2 (2), with a view to ensuring that the rights under articles 19 and 21 of the Covenant may be fully enjoyed in the State party 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