The Belarusian Helsinki Committee informed the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs establishing an integrated protesters database.

In their appeal, the BHC experts draw attention to the fact that, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus, the database initiator, it collects information about the identity of protesters, as well as administrators and subscribers of Telegram channels, including information about gender, age, place of residence and work or study, as well as hobbies.

The BHC drew the attention of the Special Rapporteur to the lack of a legal basis for such database and its use for purposes that do not comply with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. The BHC expressed concern that given the fact that the collected data includes places of work, study and even hobbies, the government may use it for point intimidation in order to prevent people from expressing their opinions through peaceful protests.

The BHC requested the special rapporteur to urgently contact the Belarusian authorities, seek full information from them about the inclusion criteria for the database, its purposes, and the types of data collected, as well as to recommend the Ministry of Internal Affairs to abandon this initiative.

In accordance with the mandate, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy exercises, inter alia, the following powers:

  • collects relevant information, including on national practices and experiences, studies trends, developments, and issues related to the right to privacy, and makes recommendations to ensure its promotion and protection; 

  • collects and responds to information, including from civil society organizations; 

  • identifies possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of the right to privacy, submits relevant proposals and recommendations to the Human Rights Council;

  • reports alleged violations wherever they occur of the right to privacy, as set out in article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including in relation to problems arising from new  technology, draws the attention of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to situations of particular concern;

  • submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.