Raisa Mikhailovskaya and Oleg Volchek v. Belarus

Raisa Mikhailovskaya and Oleg Volchek v. Belarus: Disproportionate and unnecessary restrictions to freedom of association violates article 22.

CCPR/C/111/D/1993/2010 adopted on 24 July 2014.

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The complaint

The authors are two of the founders of a Belarusian local-based NGO, Legal Aid to the Population, who attempted to register a new nationwide association under a new name: Legal Protection of Citizens. The Ministry of Justice rejected the allegedly deficient application for registration, stating that the new association could not provide legal assistance to citizens. On the other hand, the authors were informed of the beginning ex officio of the dissolution proceedings of the existing NGO on the grounds of the violation of the rules governing the initial registration of the organization.

The authors claim the violation of their right to freedom of association under article 22 of the Covenant.

Committee’s decision:

After declaring the communication admissible, the Committee highlights that, according to article 22 of the Covenant, every person has the right to freedom of association with others. Restrictions on the right to freedom of association can be justified only if provided by law and if necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Furthermore, the State must demonstrate that the prohibition of an association is necessary and proportionate to the interest being protected.

The denial of registration of the new entity and the dissolution of the existing NGO constitute a disproportionate response. Therefore, the Committee concludes that the necessary requirements have not been satisfied and the right to freedom of association of the authors, under article 22 of the Covenant, has been violated.

As a consequence, the State party is under an obligation to:

  • Provide the authors with an effective remedy, including reimbursement of any legal costs incurred, together with compensation;
  • Provide the authors with the re-establishment of the existing NGO and a renewed consideration of the registration of the nationwide new entity in a manner consistent with article 22 of the Covenant;
  • Take steps in order to prevent similar violations in the future.

Deadline to submit the report on the implementation of the recommendations:

180 days from the adoption of the views: 20 January 2015.

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