View Adopted: 2021.07.23
Authors are Belarusian nationals. They sought permission from local authorities to hold a picket, but these requests were repeatedly denied on technicalities and on the basis that they would interfere with activities of the public. Belarusian courts dismissed their complaint. Authors contend that their rights under articles 2, 14(1), 19 (2) and 21 of the Covenant were violated.
The Committee found that the alleged violation of article 14 (1) concerning judicial bias was insufficiently unsubstantiated and thus inadmissible. Claims under articles 19 and 21, read in conjunction with article 2 of the Covenant fail as inadmissible on the same basis. Nonetheless, the Committee found the claims under articles 19(2) and 21 of the Covenant to be sufficiently 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 (2) 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.
Pursuant to article 2 (3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy. This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, 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