The Only International Human Rights Institution Available to Belarusians Will Cease Being One

Information has appeared on the website of the House of Representatives of Belarus as to the preparation for consideration in the first reading of the draft law "On the denunciation by the Republic of Belarus of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". The bill is under consideration by the Permanent Commission on Human Rights, National Relations and the Media.

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides an opportunity for an individual to bring before the Human Rights Committee (hereinafter HRC) a complaint about a violation on the part of a State of the right guaranteed by the Covenant. At the same time, the State's obligation under the Optional Protocol is to admit that it has committed violations that are established in the final decision of the HRC, and to compensate for the violated right.

Belarus ratified the Protocol on January 19, 1992, and it entered into force on December 30 of the same year. The Republic of Belarus is one of the record holders for appeals to the HRC, Belarus accounts for the largest number of such complaints among all states –– perhaps, due to the fact that HRC is one of the few mechanisms available to Belarusians to protect impeded rights at the international level, and decisions of national courts often do not suit victims of the rights violated. Case-law is available at this link.

Since its inception, only two States have denounced the Protocol (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago). At the same time, unlike the Optional Protocol, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights per se does not provide for a procedure for withdrawing from it (General comment 26). That is, even if Belarus deprives its citizens of the right to file a complaint against the state to the HRC by denouncing the Protocol, it won’t be able to withdraw from the International Covenant.

At the same time, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the body monitoring compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) is still available. However, it was the HRC that was the main international instance for Belarusians to file complaints about violations of their rights to freedom of assembly and association, arbitrary deprivation of liberty and detention, etc.
Made on