The Belarusian Helsinki Committee made a submission to the Special Rapporteurs on the issue of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, on the situation of human rights defenders and on the human rights situation in Belarus with information about pressure on independent trade unions from Belarusian authorities in violation of the right to freedom of association.
The message contains not only information about recent events, but also a description of the repression against trade unions in 2021. In particular, we informed Special Rapporteurs about two waves of searches and detentions in February and September 2021, as well as about pressure on members of independent trade unions by the administration of enterprises through intimidation and dismissals.
The submission pays special attention to the events of 2022, namely the renewed repression in the form of searches and mass detentions.
We stressed that the exact legal basis of criminal charges against trade union activists was unknown, and that the search decree listed about 10 articles of the Criminal Code that had traditionally been used over the past two years to persecute civil society and political opposition.
In addition, in the message we drew the attention of Special Rapporteurs to the fact that on April 7, the KGB recognized the Belarusian Trade Union of Radio-Electronic Industry Workers (REP) as an extremist formation.
According to the BHC, such actions of the Belarusian authorities violate article 2 of ILO Convention No. 87, which provides that employees have the right to form organizations of their choice without prior permission and the right to join such organizations , and article 11 which assumes that the State undertakes to take all necessary and appropriate measures to guarantee employees and employers the free exercise of the right to form trade unions. Moreover, such treatment violates the right to freedom of association, including the right to form and join trade unions, provided for in article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The BHC asked the Special Rapporteurs to contact the Belarusian authorities and call them to stop repressions against independent trade unions, their leaders and members, exclude the Belarusian Trade Union of Radio-Electronic Industry Workers (REP) from the list of extremist organizations and allow it to continue its trade union activities, as well as guarantee respect and protection of human rights and labor rights.