GENEVA (23 April 2018) – Belarus violated the human rights of Mr. Andrei Sannikov, an opposition political candidate to the country’s 2010 presidential elections, the UN Human Rights Committee found in a decision issued today. He was the victim of torture and arbitrary arrest, and also suffered arbitrary deprivations of liberty, privacy, the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the Committee found in response to an individual complaint filed by Mr. Sannikov in July 2012.
The full decision is available here:
Mr. Sannikov, who currently lives in exile, was arrested on election day, after the Belarusian authorities violently dispersed a demonstration organised by the opposition candidates. Found guilty of having organized “mass disorder” and sentenced to five years in prison, Mr. Sannikov was later granted a presidential pardon and exempted from serving the remainder of his sentence. The pardon, however, did not remove the criminal conviction from his record and by law he is precluded from standing in future elections.
Mr. Sannikov submitted his individual complaint to the Human Rights Committee under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Human Rights Committee oversees implementation by States parties of the ICCPR, and Mr. Sannikov was able to make his complaint because the State Party in question, Belarus, is also a party to the Optional Protocol to that Covenant.
“The right of peaceful assembly, as guaranteed under article 21 of the ICCPR, is a fundamental human right that is indispensable in a democratic society. This right entails the possibility of organizing and participating in a peaceful assembly, including a spontaneous one, in a public location,” said the Committee.
The Committee called on Belarus to carry out a prompt, impartial, effective and thorough investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment and initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible. It also directed Belarus to expunge Mr. Sannikov’s criminal record and provide him with adequate compensation. Belarus must also take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.
The Committee regretted the failure of Belarus to contribute to its examination of Mr. Sannikov’s complaint, noting that States parties to the Optional Protocol were obliged to cooperate in good faith with the Human Rights Committee.
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- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Human Rights Committee individual complaints procedure