Institute of the Ombudsman in the Republic of Belarus: position of the Belarusian Section of the ISHR
In the Republic of Belarus there is currently no ombudsman institution, which is the most important element in the national system for the protection of human rights.
The first attempt to approve such an institution in the Republic of Belarus was made in 1996, when the Law “On the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus” was drafted. It was approved in the first reading by the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus. The commissions of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus on human rights and national relations, on legislation and judicial reform, were instructed to finalize the draft law taking into account suggestions and comments made by deputies and submit them for consideration, unfortunately it did not happen.
The fact that the institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights is needed in the Republic of Belarus, Professor I.I. Kotlyar first spoke about it at the Brest Regional Conference on the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, held at the Brest State University in September 1995. This idea was supported by the Belarusian section of the International Society for Human Rights, and was reflected in the materials of conferences conducted under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the Board on Human Rights: in 1996 on “Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus: Protection Mechanisms and Teaching Methods”, in 1998 on the issue: “Human Rights: the UN Dimension and Rights Implementation at the Turn of the 21st Century”. Participants of the republican round table on the issue: “The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus on the Rights, Freedoms and Duties of Citizens” (1997) also supported the idea of establishing the Institute of the Ombudsman for Human Rights.
In 2000, in Brest, a special round-table meeting was held on the initiative and under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the Board of ISHR, on the issue: “The Commissioner is the Most Important Element in the National System for the Protection of Human Rights”. Teachers of higher educational institutions, lawyers, deputies, representatives of public organizations and state bodies, in particular, the Deputy Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and National Relations of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the President of the Belarusian Academy of Social Sciences, the Doctor of Sociological Sciences, Professor I.V. Kotlyarov took part.
Ambassador, Deputy Head of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus H.P. Kleiner presented to the participants the experience of the Commissioner for Human Rights in European Countries.
During the round table a scientific analysis was given on the problem of establishment of the Commissioner Institution for Human Rights, its place and role in the national system for the protection of human rights. Participants unanimously supported the introduction of the institution of Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus, discussed various aspects of the process of its formation.
Following the discussion of this problem, the round table adopted recommendations that were sent to the Belarusian Parliament. In particular, in these recommendations were declaimed the following: “The House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus should consider in the current year 2000 the draft Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus”. However these recommendations were not implemented. By the way it should be noted that there was an attempt on the part of local authorities to ban the holding of the round table. But the Chairman of the organization’s board managed to get the consent of the then rector of the Pedagogical University to hold the meeting in the university building.
Our organization has continued and continues to systematically and persistently defend the idea of introducing the Institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus. In 2013, the second attempt was made to organize a discussion on this problem at the scientific level. The Chairman of the Board held a lot of organizational work to prepare the republican seminar on the topic “The Commissioner for Human Rights.Experience, Activity in the CIS Countries and the European Union and Prospects for its Introduction in Belarus”. However, two weeks before the beginning of the meeting the Ministry of Education prohibited holding the seminaron this issue. However, the seminar was still held jointly with the Office of the European Union in the Republic of Belarus, the United Nations Office in the Republic of Belarus, the Analytical Center EcooM, but at the same time it was necessary to change its theme to “Basic Mechanisms for the Protection and Ensuring of Human Rights”. As a result, the problem of the Commissioner went into the background. The resolution and recommendations adopted at the end of the seminar did not contain the need to establish the post of the Commissioner in the Republic of Belarus. However, the discussion took place, leading scientists took part in it, among them were: V.A. Bozhanov – Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of BNTU; G.A. Vasilevich – Doctor of Law, Professor, Head of the Department of Constitutional Law of BSU, etc., who made presentations and substantiated the need to establish the Institution of the Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus.
In the same year 2013, Professor G.A. Vasilevich developed the Concept of the National Human Rights Institution, which was adopted by our organization (attached).
Thus, the position of the Belarusian section of ISHR has always been and remains clear and on this subject matter. It consists in the fact that it is objectively necessary to establish this Institute for Human Rights in Belarus.
In our opinion, the Institution of Commissioner for Human Rights can and should become an essential complement to the current system of Belarusian legislative, representative and judicial bodies of the human rights protection system, an important element of the emerging civil society in the Republic of Belarus.
The establishment of the Commissioner Institution in the Republic of Belarus is extremely important, as it will significantly increase the level of protection of citizens against any kind of infringements and violations by state structures, and the introduction of major changes to the current legislation is necessary for its fulfillment, because the regulation of this institution as an independent institution must be implemented at the constitutional level.
The introduction of the Institution of Commissioner for Human Rights in Belarus is not a tribute to the political fashion, but a testimony to the recognition by the state of the urgent need of the society for informal, independent, depoliticized, personal identity from still often encountered administrative arbitrariness, bureaucratic distortions of laws, unfair treatment of citizens by officials and other civil servants. Being a part of the national system for the protection of human rights, this institution will allow citizens, without the usual bureaucratic red tape, to bring to the attention of the executive branch and the Parliament various problems related to the protection of human rights. Preventing administrative abuses, the Commissioner for Human Rights has a preventive effect on civil servants. This neutralizes the man’s suspicious attitude toward officials, maintains faith in justice, and as a result, the existing contradictions of the state and civil society overcome.
The existing situation on the issue of the Commissioner for Human Rights is largely determined by the position of the official authorities of Belarus. In their opinion, the Commissioner for Human Rights, in accordance with Article 79 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus is the President. Article 79 of the Constitution says: “The President of the Republic of Belarus is the Head of State, the guarantor of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the rights and freedoms of man and citizen”. We believe that the text of this Article does not preclude the establishment of the post of Commissioner for Human Rights. The real situation in the republic demands this. Human rights organizations operating in the republic support the establishment of the Commissioner post. This approach is supported by well-known scientists, experts in the field of human rights.
We plan to discuss the need to introduce the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Belarus at a meeting of the republican round table in January 2018 in Minsk together with representatives of the scientific community and public organizations.
We will take into account the experience of Commissioners for Human Rights of all states, which was presented at today’s meeting. We appeal to the Eurasia Committee for assistance in holding the round table.
Executive Secretary of the Board of the Belarusian Section of the ISHR Simanovsky S.I.
Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian Section of the ISHR, professor Kotlyar I.I.