We are making this message to show all responsible persons that expressing an opinion cannot be a reason for persecution, and to show lawyers that human rights defenders are trying to protect them by available methods.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has addressed the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, on the independence of judges and lawyers and on the human rights situation in Belarus with information about violations of the right of lawyers in Belarus to freedom of expression. We reported on disciplinary proceedings initiated against lawyers for signing a petition against the participation of the Republic of Belarus in the armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine, specifying that three lawyers had already been reprimanded, and the other two were awaiting consideration.
In the communication, we drew attention to the fact that punishing lawyers for expressing a public position against an act of aggression that is condemned by the international community, for expressing opinions based on law and basic human values and for contributing to public discussion on a thorny social and legal issue was a gross violation of freedom of expression and did not meet international standards for the functioning of the bar.
In addition, we stressed that the governing bodies of the bar in Belarus were not independent and impartial, which was confirmed by their arbitrary interpretation of the Rules of Professional Ethics of a Lawyer with the sole purpose of silencing lawyers.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee constantly communicates with relevant UN Special Rapporteurs to protect Belarusian lawyers.