Thursday, 23 February 2006
Based on www.svaboda.org, www.spring96.org, http://helsinki.home.by materials.
On the first of March, a criminal case against the chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC), Tatiana Protko, because of tax evasion, was resumed. During the prosecution the last republican Human Rights association might be liquidated and BHC leaders are threatened with seven years of imprisonment with confiscation of property.
The organization which helps
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee is a voluntary, independent and non-political social organization, registered in November 1995. Today there are more than 100 members of the BHC, among them doctors, lawyers, scientists, journalists, writers, etc .
BHC prepares reports, surveys, articles to reflect the situation of observance of national legislation and international agreements on human rights in the Republic of Belarus. One of the main tasks of the BHC is to help citizens, whose rights have been violated. As far as possible, representatives of the BHC are sent to take part in trials as independent observers. BHC seconds a proposal to give the NGOs the right to legislative initiative. It also works on establishing the position of ombudsman in the Belarusian Parliament.
Two year long story
A lawsuit between BHC and Belarusian tax bodies lasts about two years. The tax inspectorate decided that this organization has violated the presidential decree “ About some measures of perfection of the order of getting and use foreign free of charge support”. Namely BHC did not pay taxes (around 70000$) by the technical support projects of TASIS program. In one’s turn Human Rights defenders refer to international treaty signed by Belarusian authorities, according to which this support is become free of taxes and customs.
A year ago, after some trails, this case was close because the investigation has not found corpus delicti in BHC head’s actions.
”I supposed the state is going to bring in state of emergency in the country”, says Tatiana Protko, -left- “because when the candidate to the presidential position (Kazulin) is bitten by SWAP, authorities destroy not only our belief in elections but that Human Rights are available at all. According to this situation setting up the criminal case against the leader of BHC is natural. This is just a part of general struggle against lawfulness, democracy and Human Rights in Belarus.”
Human Rights defenders suppose that they are pursued because of political reasons, including their attempts to get independent observation going. The investigation will last not more then a month. The accusation against of Tatiana Protko was not brought yet.