Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Opinion On The Warning Addressed To The Belarusian Association Of Journalists On 13 January 2010 By The Ministry Of Justice Of Belarus

Posted by Info on 12/01/2011

Adopted by the Venice Commission ,at its 85th Plenary Session, (Venice, 17-18 December 2010)
on the basis of comments by Mr Pieter van DIJK (Member, The Netherlands), Mr Christoph GRABENWARTER (Member, Austria), Mr Peter PACZOLAY (Member, Hungary), Ms Herdis THORGEIRSDOTTIR (Member, Iceland) – the whole text here

VI. Conclusions
97. As a party to the ICCPR, Belarus has binding legal obligations to protect fundamental civil and political rights such as the freedom of expression (Article 19), the freedom of association (Article 22), the right to participation in public life (Article 25) and the right to equality before the law and non-discrimination (Article 26). Belarus has a positive obligation to respect these rights.
98. As a candidate country for membership of the Council of Europe and an associate member of the Venice Commission, the “acquis” of the Council of Europe, including the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, constitutes also a relevant frame of reference for the Venice Commission and the Parliamentary Assembly to assess if certain measures by the public authorities of Belarus are in conformity with international standards.
99. The rights to freedom of expression and of association are of paramount importance in any democratic society and any restriction of these must meet a strict test of justification.
100. The Ministry of Justice’s Order has restricted the rights of a group of journalists to freedom of expression and the right to seek and impart information. To be able to enjoy freedom of expression of the press requires that journalists must have effective protection by their trade union or association. By denying the BAJ the right to issue press cards for their journalists the Belarusian authorities are denying these journalists the rights to have their interests protected by their association At the same time the domestic legal situation is stripping the journalists’ association, the BAJ, of effective power to protect members’ interests.
101. The Ministry of Justice’s Order constitutes, in the opinion of the Venice Commission, a
violation of Articles 19 and 2 of the ICCPR and Articles 11 and 10 of the ECHR.
102. Additionally, since the Ministry of Justice’s Order creates a discriminatory situation, it also
constitutes a violation of Article 26 of the ICCPR, and Article 14 ECHR taken together with Article 10 of the ECHR, and Protocol No. 12 to the ECHR.

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