Non-Governmental Organisations

    Resolution adopted on 4 October 2011

    Resolution concerning Civil Society in Belarus

    The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe,

    Noting with concern a deterioration of the situation with human rights and democratic freedoms in Belarus over recent months and a further distancing of Belarus from Council of Europe values and principles, namely:

    − The imprisonment for politically motivated reasons of former presidential candidates Andrej Sannikau and Mikalaj Statkievic, Chairperson of Human Rights Centre “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski and other political and civil leaders;
    − Reports about physical and psychological mistreatment of political prisoners Andrei Sannokov and Dzmitry Dashkevich;
    − Criminal persecution, beating, arrests, dismissal from jobs and expulsion from universities of participants of peaceful protests;
    − The use of special secret services and plain clothed groups to exert pressure on civil activists;
    − Direct or indirect – through their families - harassment and persecution of democratic civil activists who speak at international forums on the situation in Belarus;
    − The execution of two persons sentenced to death in July 2011;
    − The continuous existence and application of anti-democratic legislation on mass actions, on civil organisations, on political parties, and the preparation of further restrictive amendments to the Law on Mass Actions;
    − The disbarring and criminal prosecution of lawyers defending political activists;

    Calls for the immediate and unconditional release and complete discharge of all convicted on political grounds - those sentenced for peaceful protests of 19 December 2010; Dzmitry Dashkevich; Eduard Lobau; Mikalay Avtukhovich; Ales Bialiatski; activists convicted in the “case of anarchists”;

    Demands that the Belarusian authorities stop the shameful humiliation and mistreatment of prisoners which are tantamount to torture;

    Calls on the other institutions of the Council of Europe to request the Venice Commission to assess the amendments to the law on “mass actions”, as well as of the legal grounds used by the Ministry of Justice to disbar and prosecute lawyers defending political activists in trials;

    Encourages international bar associations, human rights defenders and other non-governmental organisations to manifest their solidarity with, and provide all appropriate support to, Belarusian colleagues;

    Calls for the introduction of a moratorium on executions as a first step towards the abolition of the death penalty in Belarus;

    Requests the abolition of the prohibition of the activities of non-registered organisations and structural improvements in the NGO legislation in accordance with international standards and with involvement of all relevant civil society organisations;

    Declares that the attitude of the authorities towards peaceful actions, including People's Conventions carried out in accordance with the law, will be an criteria for the further assessment of the situation in Belarus;

    Demands that the authorities stop the persecution of independent journalists and non-state media and treat independent and state media impartially;

    Demands the respect of the freedom of movement both for Belarusian civil activists in case they leave their country and for foreign democratic activists who come to Belarus in order to monitor the human rights situation there.