Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for October 20th, 2011

In Belarus New Law: Treason = Working For Foreign Organization.

Posted by Info on 20/10/2011

New legislation about the secret police, still known as the KGB, lifts restrictions on the KGB’s use of weapons,gives officers the authority to break into residences and offices and to put his political opponents behind bars.

A new ban on receiving foreign funds carries a two-year prison sentence, while simply calling for an anti-government protest can send someone to prison for three years. The legislation is expanding the definition of treason in such a way as to cast possible suspicion on anyone working for a foreign organization.

The past summer saw a wave of demonstrations against Lukashenko’s regime by people who clapped their hands, stomped their feet or simply smiled. Initially caught by surprise, police quickly started rounding up demonstrators even though their actions did not violate any law because they chanted no anti-government slogans and carried no signs.

The set of legal amendments, passed at a closed session of parliament earlier this month and posted on a government web site Thursday, now give police formal justification for clamping down on those taking part in the protests despite the absence of any political demands. Gatherings for “active inaction” will now be banned.

A separate legal amendment expands the definition of treason to include “assisting a foreign state, a foreign organization or its representative to the detriment of Belarus’ national security,” which is punishable by a prison sentence from seven to 15 years.

Further the new legislation makes it illegal for political parties and movements to receive any funds from abroad or keep their money in foreign banks. It introduces a two-year prison term for those violating the ban. This may further hurt the case of Alex Belyatsky, the jailed leader of Vesna, the most prominent human rights group in Belarus.

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