View Adopted: 2022.07.27
The author is a national of Belarus, who sought permission from local authorities to hold two public events in Volkovysk – a street procession to support the European integration of Ukraine and a single-person picket to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Both requests for permission were refused on the grounds that the legislation in force did not envisage holding a street procession in a park, and that the author had failed to comply with the requirements of the Public Events Act. Following the refusals, the author held an unauthorized picket against the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine and was convicted of an administrative offense for breaching the established procedure for holding public events, as he had not obtained prior authorization for the single-person picket from the local authorities. The author challenged the two refusal decisions and the conviction decision in courts, however, to no avail.
The author claimed that the State party had violated his rights under article 19 (freedom of expression) and article 21 (freedom of assembly) of the Covenant.
The Committee found the author’s claim under article 19 (2) of the Covenant concerning the administrative sanction imposed on him for holding an unauthorized picket and his respective claim under articles 19 (2) and 21 of the Covenant concerning the refusal by the authorities of the State party to grant him an authorization for holding peaceful assemblies, thm sufficiently substantiated for the purposes of admissibility. The Committee considered the rest of the claims unsubstantiated.
With regard to the State’s refusals to hold public events, the Committee noted that neither the local authorities nor domestic courts had provided any justification or explanation on how the author’s public events would have violated the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, as set out in article 21 of the Covenant. The State party also failed to show that any alternative measures were taken to facilitate the exercise of the author’s rights under article 21. The Committee also observed that the State party had failed to invoke any specific grounds to support the necessity of the restrictions imposed on the author as required under article 19 (3) of the Covenant. The Committee considered that the sanctions and limitations imposed on the author, although based on domestic law, were not justified pursuant to the conditions set out in article 19 (3) of the Covenant. Therefore, there was a violation of the author’s rights under articles 19 and 21 of the Covenant.
The State party should:
(a) take appropriate steps to provide the author with adequate compensation, including reimbursement of the fine imposed on him and any legal cost incurred;
(b) take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future, and
(c) 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.
Deadline: January 27, 2023
By: Anna Gorodetskaya