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  • Stop judicial harassment of Dzmitry Kazlou!

    Joint statement by human rights and other civil society organizations

    Min­sk — Jan­u­ary 21, 2020

    On Jan­u­ary 17, Dzmit­ry Kazlou, a blog­ger famous for his crit­i­cism of the author­i­ties, was once again sen­tenced by the Orša City Court to 15 days of admin­is­tra­tive deten­tion.

    It is also known that Kazlou faced a total of eight charges under Art. 23.34 of the Admin­is­tra­tive Code (ille­gal protest­ing and call­ing to join the protests), and he is expect­ed to stand anoth­er tri­al on Jan­u­ary 27 at the court of the Lienin­s­ki dis­trict of Min­sk.

    On Decem­ber 25, Dzmit­ry Kazlou was sent to serve 15 days of deten­tion in the deten­tion cen­ter of Orša for his involve­ment in a series of peace­ful assem­blies that took place in Min­sk dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

    On Jan­u­ary 9, he was again sen­tenced to 15 days in prison for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the anti-inte­gra­tion protest on Decem­ber 21 in Min­sk.

    The fol­low­ing day, Jan­u­ary 10, the blog­ger was tried again on charges of protest­ing in Min­sk on Decem­ber 20 and sen­tenced to 15 days of deten­tion.

    On Jan­u­ary 13, Kazlou stood his fourth con­sec­u­tive tri­al and was sen­tenced to anoth­er 15 days in prison for shar­ing on social media a mes­sage about a gath­er­ing on Decem­ber 29 in Min­sk.

    On Jan­u­ary 20, the blog­ger was tem­porar­i­ly released from the deten­tion cen­ter in Orša due to “dis­in­fec­tion works”. He told reporters after his release that he was sen­tenced to a total of 90 days of admin­is­tra­tive deten­tion.

    The tac­tics of sen­tenc­ing oppo­si­tion and civ­il soci­ety activists to sev­er­al con­sec­u­tive admin­is­tra­tive prison terms have been pre­vi­ous­ly used by the Belaru­sian author­i­ties as a tool of polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed per­se­cu­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, back in 2012, activist Ivan Amelchanka served 52 days of admin­is­tra­tive deten­tion.

    We once again stress that this mis­ap­pli­ca­tion of the rules of the Admin­is­tra­tive Code is fun­da­men­tal­ly flawed, as it is polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed and used to pres­sure and pun­ish pub­lic activ­i­ty, blog­ger Dzmit­ry Kazlou, in par­tic­u­lar.

    In addi­tion, we note that the length of impris­on­ment imposed on Dzmit­ry Kazlou can be com­pared with the pun­ish­ment pro­vid­ed for by the Crim­i­nal Code. His con­fine­ment is used sole­ly to sanc­tion his exer­cise of free­dom of peace­ful assem­bly, expres­sion and dis­sem­i­na­tion of infor­ma­tion, guar­an­teed by the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of Belarus and inter­na­tion­al stan­dards in the field of human rights, the Inter­na­tion­al Covenant on Civ­il and Polit­i­cal Rights, in par­tic­u­lar.

    We remind that accord­ing to para. 3.1 of the Guide­lines for the def­i­n­i­tion of the notion of “polit­i­cal pris­on­er” approved by the Belaru­sian human rights com­mu­ni­ty at its 3rd Human Rights Forum, depri­va­tion of lib­er­ty (includ­ing admin­is­tra­tive deten­tion) in con­nec­tion with the non-vio­lent exer­cise of the free­doms guar­an­teed by inter­na­tion­al laws on human rights is the basis for the recog­ni­tion of such a per­son as a polit­i­cal pris­on­er, demand­ing their imme­di­ate release. These require­ments are ful­ly applic­a­ble to per­sons con­vict­ed in admin­is­tra­tive tri­als on charges of par­tic­i­pa­tion in or orga­niz­ing peace­ful assem­blies and calls to arrange such gath­er­ings, as we have repeat­ed­ly stat­ed.

    In this regard, we, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Belaru­sian human rights orga­ni­za­tions, express our protest against the polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion and the impris­on­ment of the blog­ger Dzmit­ry Kazlou and demand to:

    • reverse all ear­li­er court rul­ings issued against Dzmit­ry Kazlou;
    • drop all charges brought against Dzmit­ry Kazlou under Art. 23.34 of the Code of Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es.

    Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists

    Human Rights Cen­ter “Vias­na”

    Belaru­sian Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter

    Legal Ini­tia­tive

    Advi­so­ry cen­ter on con­tem­po­rary inter­na­tion­al prac­tices and their legal imple­men­ta­tion ”Human Con­stan­ta”

    Barys Zvozskau Belaru­sian Human Rights House

    Legal Trans­for­ma­tion Cen­ter “Lawtrend”

    Ini­tia­tive Forb

    Office for the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties

    Belaru­sian PEN Cen­ter

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