On August 14, the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” sent to the security services an open letter concerning the situation of Father Vladimir Lazar. Human rights activists are demanding acknowledgment of the place of detention of priest, his state of health, reasons for his arrest and details about his accusation. According to the Belarusian independent media, Catholic priest from Borisov disappeared in the beginning of summer, and after two months, it turned out that he was arrested.
Representatives of civil society gathered more than a thousand signatures under the petition demanding the release of Father Lazar. Belarusians from Poland and other countries have organized a campaign of support for the prisoner, sending dozens of letters to the KGB detention center in Minsk. However, after a few days it turned out that the letters returned. On August 12 BCD issued a collective statement on Vladimir Lazar.
Committee for State Security (KGB), however, keeps silent on this issue. As in the case of a “spy” Hajdukov, society is in a difficult situation due to lack of information.
Below one may found full statement of Human Rights Center “Viasna.”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
August 14, 2013
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” urges the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) to disclose information about the grounds for the detention of priest Uladzislau
Lazar, as well as the essence of the charge he is facing.
Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be guaranteed the right to receive, store and disseminate complete, reliable and timely information on the activities of state bodies and public associations, on political, economic, cultural and international life, and on the state of the environment (Article 34 of the Constitution).
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enshrines that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information.”
The exercise of the rights provided by the Covenant “carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: for respect of the rights or reputations of others; for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
We believe that information about the arrest, detention, the essence of suspicion and accusations, procedural status, place of detention, and other aspects which are unrelated to the details of the criminal prosecution, cannot violate the secrecy of the investigation protected by law and do not pose a threat to the interests of national security and public order.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” regularly receives information about restriction or infringement of the rights of certain individuals on the part of the government. Such cases require an adequate response from the institutions of civil society. Meanwhile, human rights defenders, understanding their responsibility for the impartiality and objectivity of their judgments, often have to report complete absence of official information, even in instances when a particular case is of wide public response.
Therefore, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” calls upon the authorities, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the KGB and the Investigative Committee, to report through the media and with their own websites on each high-profile or strategic case dealing with restrictions on the rights of citizens.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” reminds that regardless of the severity of the offense charged detainees have all rights except those that are limited by the very fact of custody; torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are prohibited.