European diplomats insist that Belarusian authorities put an end to the use of force; new laws destroy journalism and the legal profession
16 April 2021 | Voice of Belarus
European diplomats: the normalization of relations is impossible until violence stops
Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei met with the ambassadors of France and Germany. According to the press service of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, “during the meeting, the parties discussed the state of the Belarusian-European and bilateral relations, as well as topical issues on the international agenda”.
A joint statement by the ambassadors of Germany and France, Manfred Huterer and Nicolas de Lacoste, says that “the meeting was held in a constructive manner”.
The ambassadors expressed their governments’ concerns about the human rights situation in Belarus. They also reminded about the EU’s position on the impossibility of normalizing the relations until an end is put to the use of force against peaceful demonstrators and until all political prisoners are released and a comprehensive political dialogue is initiated and, as a result, the new presidential elections are held.
The members of Parliament intend to toughen responsibility for any actions against the government
Here are the highlights of the proposed laws that were passed in the first reading.
Criminal liability is introduced for the distribution of prohibited information by the owner of an Internet resource for a second time within a year’s period; for illegal provision of personal data and information about private life, including that of a person or relatives of thereof in connection with “the performance of official activities or public duty”.
Journalists working at unauthorized rallies are equated to participants of these events. It is prohibited to cover unauthorized rallies in the media and online in real-time “with the purpose of popularising or propagating of these events”.
A direct ban is introduced on calls for organizing and holding a mass event, including announcing the date, place and time of an event in the media and online, as well as a ban on the production and distribution of leaflets and posters for an event until an official permission for it is granted.
The authorities destroy the Belarusian legal profession on all levels
The parliament approved two important amendments concerning the activities of lawyers in the first reading. First of all, the work of lawyers “within law firms and individually” will be abolished. The only form of lawyer activity possible will be within the legal aid bureaus under the bar association.
Second, former security officers and judges will be able to become members of the Bar through a simplified procedure.
These changes will put an end to the independence of lawyers.
The lawyers themselves are also persecuted. Thus, the lawyer of Maria Kalesnikava, Lyudmila Kazak, went to court to challenge the decision of the Ministry of Justice to revoke her license to practice law, but the court did not satisfy her complaint.
Legal counsel of Viktar Babaryka’s campaign headquarters and lawyer Illia Salei got the measure of restraint changed from house arrest to bail. However, Salei remains in the status of an accused.