ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2015.12.07

View Adopted: 2022.07.07

L. Shchiryakova v. Belarus

Violation of freedom to impart information following imposition of a fine for unlawful production and distribution of mass media products

Substantive Issues
  • Fair trial
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom to impart information
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14.3 (b)
  • Article 14.3 (d)
  • Article 19
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 2.2
  • Article 2.3 (b)
  • Article 5.2 (b) - OP1
Full Text


The author, a national of Belarus, is a freelance journalist, a member of the officially registered Belarusian Association of Journalists and the Deputy Chair of the Association’s Gomel branch. The author was accused of the illegal production and distribution of mass media products and fined with 3.6 million Belarusian roubles for posting a video report on the Internet, where she interviewed vendors at the central market in Gomel, and which was then broadcasted by a foreign satellite channel. The author was refused to be legally represented by the member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists during the first instance trial. The applicant challenged the decision up to the supervisory review by the regional court and to the prosecutor’s office, however, all complaints were dismissed. The author claimed that the State party had violated her rights under article 19 (freedom of expression) in conjunction with article 2 (2) and (3) (b) (effective remedies), and article 14 (3) (b) and (d) (counsel of one’s own choosing), of the Covenant.


The Committee noted that the author had not sufficiently substantiated her claims for the purposes of article 14 (3) (b) and (d) of the Covenant, namely that the procedure she was subjected to, and particularly the fine imposed on her, due to its purpose, character or severity, should be considered as amounting to a criminal charge. The Committee, thus, declared this part of the communication inadmissible under article 2 of the Optional Protocol, and the claim under article 19 of the Covenant admissible.


The Committee noted that neither the State party nor the domestic court have provided any explanations as to how restrictions imposed on the author were justified pursuant to the conditions of necessity and proportionality as set out in article 19 (3) of the Covenant, and whether the penalty imposed (i.e. the administrative fine), even if based on law, was necessary, proportionate and in compliance with any of the legitimate purposes listed in the mentioned provision. The Committee concluded that the rights of the author under article 19 (2) had been violated.


The State party should:

(a) provide the author with adequate compensation, including reimbursement of the fine and the legal costs;

(b) take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future, and 

(c) revise its normative framework, in particular its Law on the Mass Media, consistent with its obligation under article 2 (2) of the Covenant, with a view to ensuring that the rights under article 19 of the Covenant may be fully enjoyed in the State party.


Deadline: January 7, 2023

By: Anna Gorodetskaya

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