Communication to the UN Special Rapporteurs On the Criminal Prosecution of Attorney Alexander Danilevich

The Right to Defence, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Human Constanta and Human Rights Centre Viasna communicated a joint statement to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus concerning the criminal prosecution of the attorney Alexander Danilevich.

We, the organizations-signatories to the statement, have drawn the Special Rapporteurs' attention to Belarusian authorities’ non-compliance with international standards on the legal profession. The international standard is to grant civil and criminal immunity in respect of the statements made in good faith in the form of written submissions to a court or oral pleadings or in the course of lawyers’ professional duties before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative body.

We are confident that Alexander Danilevich is being prosecuted for his statements on issues of great importance to society, which he as an attorney is entitled (and in some situations even obliged) to make. The investigative authorities do not mention any inappropriate or unethical statements that contradict the professional ethics of a lawyer; they only mention the fact of allegedly communicating with the media, which are considered to be extremist, often even retroactively.

We also reported that the Belarusian National Bar Association (BNBA), as well as the territorial bar associations, completely ignored the ongoing events and failed to take any measures to protect individual lawyers and the bar as a whole.

The above circumstances indicate not only serious problems in the provision of legal (attorney’s) assistance, the right to defense and legal aid, but also the general impossibility of functioning of an independent and fair judiciary in such conditions. Persecution of lawyers for their professional activities both on the part of state bodies and bar associations creates an atmosphere of intimidation and distrust in the legal society.

We called on the Special Rapporteurs to urge the Belarusian authorities to stop persecuting lawyers for practicing their profession, to immediately release Alexander Danilevich, and to call on the BNBA to strictly perform its function of protecting the legal profession.
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