Roundtable on “The Strategies for Eliminating Political Repressions in Belarus”

Belarusian human rights defenders and former political prisoners in cooperation with foreign experts began work on a draft law on rehabilitation of victims of political repressions. This initiative was supported by Czech non-profit organization Civic Belarus, which organized a roundtable “The Strategies for Eliminating Political Repressions in Belarus” in Human Rights House in Vilnius on 10–11 April 2009.

The roundtable was attended by representatives of several Belarusian human rights organizations such as Legal Support to Population, Association of Medium and Small Entrepreneurs and Belarusian branch of “Memorial”. Majority of participants were former political prisoners. Petr Uhl, one of the signatories of Charter 77, took part in the roundtable as an expert on legal forms of rehabilitation.

During the two-day session, the participants discussed such topics as problems with implementing the right to a fair trial in Belarus, jurisdication and practice of rehabilitation of victims of political repressions in post-socialist countries and the legal grounds for rehabilitations. A Czech lawyer specializing in these questions, Hynek Banouch, contributed to the discussion by an article „Coming to Terms with the Past and the Efficiency of Law“ (available in Belarusian and Czech here).

The participants decided to establish a wor-king group that would prepare a Belarusian draft law on rehabilitations. They also adopted a resolution concerning current political prisoners in Belarus – despite the fact that they were not recognized as political prisoners by Amnesty International (Mikalay Autukhovich, Yuri Leonau and Uladzimir Asipenka).

The roundtable in Vilnius was the first step in the long-term preparation of law on rehabilitation in Belarus, which will help to highlight the political dependency of today’s Belarusian courts and will prepare the grounds for the rehabilitation of unjustly persecuted Belarusian citizens in the future.