The Supreme Court of Belarus will hold a hearing on Thursday regarding a lawsuit filed by the Belarusian Justice Ministry to dissolve the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, according to Human Rights Watch. In the August 27 lawsuit, the country contends the Belarusian Helsinki Committee provided the ministry with inaccurate financial information. The committee is one of the country’s oldest independent human rights groups in the country. This comes only months after Belarusian authorities took measures to close more than 200 other independent groups.
Rachel Denber, the Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch said:
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has a long record defending a wide range of human rights in the country and has worked with integrity to protect the rights of everyone in Belarus . . . the lawsuit is blatant retaliation for the group’s work and is another piece of the effort to annihilate the human rights movement in Belarus.
Denber urged international actors to join HRW’s efforts, stand up for the Belarusian civil society and deliver a forceful response to this issue.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, acknowledged in her statement on September 24, that the lawsuit fits a pattern of behaviour by the Belarusian authorities that “strongly suggests that limitations to freedoms of expression and assembly, among other human rights, are primarily aimed at suppressing criticism of and dissent from Governmental policies, rather than any aim regarded as legitimate under human rights law, such as the protection of public order.”