View Adopted: 2021.07.23
Author is a Belarusian national. He sought permission from local authorities to hold a picket, but this request was denied. The author received notice that he received a registered parcel, but did not collect it. He proceeded to hold the picket, which was dispersed and resulted in his being issued with a fine. Belarusian courts dismissed the author’s protests. Author contended that his rights under 19 and 21 of the Covenant were violated.
The Committee further found the claims under articles 19 and 21 to be substantiated, and thus ultimately found them to be 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 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 articles 19 and 21.
By Justin Golden