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Bring International Standards Home

Project “Bring International Standards Home. De facto implementation of international obligations of the Republic of Belarus in the field of civil rights and freedoms”

General description of the project

Current status

Results of the first cycle of the project

Results of the second cycle of the project

Overall goal

Specific objectives

Activities

Curriculum

Effectiveness of training programs for lawyers and human rights defenders

The project “Bring International Standards Home. De facto implementation of international obligations of the Republic of Belarus in the field of civil rights and freedoms” is part of the Human Rights House Network's program "International Law in Advocacy." The project was developed by a team of lawyers and human rights defenders in 2005 and has since been carried out by partner organizations of the Human Rights House Foundation in collaboration with international and national experts.

Since the beginning of the project and to date, the project partners – non-governmental organizations in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Norway and Lithuania have been working together to ensure that lawyers and human rights defenders in Belarus had the opportunity to improve their skills in the application of international standards in the protection of human rights and freedoms. Thus, despite the self-isolation of the Belarusian legal system, civil society representatives receive theoretical and practical training in the use of legal methods of protection of fundamental civil rights and freedoms at national and international levels.

The project contributes to the efforts to implement commitments made within the framework of the United Nations and other international organizations in the field of human rights. Program participants have the opportunity to gain knowledge about regional institutions for the protection of human rights, especially the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

 

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CURRENT STATUS

Since 2006 three cycles of the project have been implemented: 2006-2008, 2009-2011 and 2012-2014.

RESULTS OF THE FIRST CYCLE OF THE PROJECT

The first cycle of the project for a group of Belarusian lawyers and human rights defenders ended in 2008. In total, 17 Belarusian and 2 Ukrainian HR defenders and 8 lawyers completed the training program and received knowledge in the sphere of application of international and constitutional human rights.

Participants began to actively use new resources in courts and in defending individual rights, both nationally and internationally. Two publications for lawyers were produced: "Freedom of expression, assembly and association: the international legal standards and legislation in the Republic of Belarus " and "Examples of individual communications to the UN Human Rights Committee, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus, articles and essays by the participants of the program "Bring International Standards home. De facto implementation of international obligations of the Republic of Belarus in the field of civil rights and freedoms".

Participants teamed up for joint projects, and human rights activists from the regions began to work on strategic litigation. A legal portal was created to exchange experiences between the HR defenders and to disseminate information about their work.

In March 2009, a group of graduates visited the Human Rights Council, working groups of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Committee on Human Rights.

RESULTS OF THE SECOND CYCLE OF THE PROJECT

The second cycle of the project started in 2009 and was completed in 2011. In total, 16 human rights defenders and 11 lawyers successfully completed the training. Six training seminars for human rights defenders and 6 for lawyers, as well as a final joint seminar and moot court for both groups, provided participants an opportunity to gain the knowledge about the main legal instruments and institutions on human rights protection and helped them to learn the skills to be able to apply that knowledge at national and international levels.

Furthermore, a comparative legal analysis was published, examining national legislation concerning the rights and freedoms in the Republic of Belarus as established in Articles 14, 19, 21, 22 of the ICCPR, Articles 6,10 and 11 of the ECHR in terms of their compliance with the international HR standards. A new analytical bulletin “Strategic Litigation” was prepared and posted at http://prava-by.info/archives/category/gomel-supolnasc.  Alumni of the project also developed a course titled “Media – Law” for the European Humanities University, and an informal HR rights education course with elements of psychology to be offered in Belarus and Ukraine. 10 follow-up projects were developed by the alumni of the project to be implemented in 2011-2012.

Alumni of both cycles of the project are currently working on the implementation of the project objectives in the following areas:

·   Strategic litigation - national and international bodies;

·    Information support and consultations for communications to international bodies;

·    Preparation of the legal journal "The Human Rights Bulletin";

·    Information and training programs;

·    Judicial protection in the national courts, working with professional groups of lawyers;

·    Support for the work of the website www.prava-by.info and the forum;

·    Opposition to arbitrary detention, opposition to torture;

·    Local leadership, youth programs;

·    Monitoring the application of the international human rights standards by national courts;

·         Finding new partners and sponsors for the program.

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OVERALL GOAL:

Strengthen the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights under the rule of law through professional development of lawyers and human rights defenders, through training, networking and cooperation between them, as well as through building their conviction and practical skills in direct application of international human rights standards at the national level.

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SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:

·   Enhance the knowledge of lawyers and human rights defenders in the field of human rights and relevant jurisprudence;

·    Strengthen the dialogue and cooperation between lawyers, human rights defenders and experts;

·    Expand the use of human rights based approach in daily practice and litigation;

·    Improve access for lawyers and human rights defenders to information about international human rights standards and case law;

·    Encourage the judiciary to apply human rights standards in their practice;

·    Raise awareness about human rights by drawing the attention of the public, civil society, and professional communities to the need for direct application of internationally accepted standards of human rights and freedoms;

·    Maintain communication and cooperation among the graduates of the program in their efforts to achieve the program’s goals;

·    Promote legal and human rights communities to demand that government agencies respect internationally accepted commitments in the field of human rights;

·    Transfer the best practice in human rights training programs for lawyers and human rights defenders to other organizations and institutions.

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 ACTIVITIES:

Publication of training materials and manuals:

2006

Freedom of expression, assembly and association: the international legal standards and legislation in the Republic of Belarus, Minsk, Tesey, 2006.

2008

Examples of individual communications to the Human Rights Committee, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus, articles and essays by the participants of the program "Bring International Standards home. De facto implementation of international obligations of the Republic of Belarus in the field of civil rights and freedoms" / / Normative and practical edition. A guide for lawyers, Vilnius, Human Rights House, 2008. http://prava-by.info/archives/1205

2010

Compiling a compendium of articles on the implementation of international legal standards on freedom of speech, association, assembly and the right to a fair trial in the Republic of Belarus.

2011

A comparative legal analysis of national legislation concerning the rights and freedoms in the Republic of Belarus as established in Articles 14, 19, 21, 22 of the ICCPR, Articles 6,10 and 11 of the ECHR in terms of their compliance with the international HR standards.

New analytical bulletin “Strategic Litigation” http://prava-by.info/archives/category/gomel-supolnasc

Training for lawyers and human rights defenders:

·   Preparation of training programs and educational materials for the two professional groups: lawyers and human rights defenders;

·   Recruitment and training of human rights defenders through workshops and individual assignments reviewed by international and national experts;

·   Recruitment and training of teams of lawyers through workshops and individual assignments reviewed by international and national experts;

·   Testing participants in the training;

·   Conducting joint seminars for lawyers and human rights defenders;

·   Organization of follow-up workshops to encourage project participants to apply international human rights law standards in daily practice and maintain a stable network of cooperation between participants and experts.

Capacity building:

·    Participation in the creation of and provision of content for an electronic human rights information resource: www.elibrary.humanrightshouse.org

·     Establishment of the project’s expert team

·     Concept development and initiation of activities by coordinators for post-project activities of the training program’s graduates and participants;

·    Supports for the Information and Consultation Centre at the Human Rights House;

·   Extensive involvement of undergraduate and graduate students of the European Humanities University in seminars and post-project activities.

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PROJECT’S CURRICULUM

For lawyers:

·   Introduction to human rights (philosophy and law);

·   Constitution of the Republic of Belarus (human rights and the basic government institutions);

·   Preparation of a written analysis of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and writing an essay;

·   Rule of law and national HR protection system;

·   Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus (CCRB);

·  Drafting of appeals to the CCRB;

·   Effective remedy;

·   Justification for non-pecuniary damage compensation;

·   Strategic litigation;

·   Monitoring;

·   International HR protection systems: UN, CoE, OSCE;

·   Freedom of expression (Art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), Art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);

·  Freedom of assembly (Art. 21 ICCPR, Art. 11 ECHR);

·  Freedom of association (Art. 22 ICCPR, Art. 11 ECHR);

·  Fair trial (Art. 14 ICCPR, Art. 6 ECHR);

·  Effective remedy (Art. 2 ICCPR, Art. 13 ECHR);

·  Drafting appeals with reference to the fair trial standards;

·  Drafting communications to the UN Human Rights Committee;

·  Drafting abstracts for court pleadings;

·  Writing articles for legal publications on problematic issues concerning particular rights studied as part of the course.

For human rights defenders:

· History and philosophy of human rights;

·  History of political thought concerning the "power-unit" relationship;

·  Rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of a human being, relationship between them, and mechanisms of protection: analysis of the Constitution (practical lesson);

·  Catalogue of civil and political rights in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

·  Dispositions and constructions of articles concerning freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and demonstration, freedom of association, right to fair trial (from 2010);

·  Legitimacy and proportionality of restrictions;

·  Expanding the concept of "prescribed by law";

·  Goals, the achievement of which may justify the use of restrictions;

· Limitations of human rights and freedoms;

·  International protection systems: UN, Council of Europe, OSCE;

·  The UN Human Rights Committee;

· Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders;

·  Individual complaint: the form and content of communications to the Committee;

·  Human Rights Council;

·  The role of the European Court of Justice in the Council of Europe system;

·  European Court of Human Rights: genesis, organization, operation, types of decisions and conclusions;

·  Relationships between and the combination of various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the decisions of the European Court of Justice;

·  Mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of decisions of the European Court of Justice;

·  Mechanisms and instruments for the protection of human rights in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus;

·  International obligations of the state and the application of conventions on human rights and freedoms of citizens in national court practice;

·   Democracy as a constitutional principle of the Republic of Belarus and the standard in the implementation of guarantees of rights and freedoms of citizens;

·  Constitutional Court as a body of constitutional review and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens from acts contrary to the Constitution;

·   Correspondence between the constitutional rights of citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the international principles and treaties in the field of fundamental human rights;

·   Application by the Constitutional Court of international norms and jurisprudence of international judicial bodies in adopting judgments;

·   Strategic litigation as a tool for building strategy to get a positive decision of the UN Committee;

·   International human rights organizations;

·   Organization of external influence and solidarity action;

·   Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights: action for the protection of public interests;

·   Human Rights in the XXI century;

·   The challenges of globalization;

·   Drafting of appeals to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus concerning the review of the constitutionality of normative acts;

·   Preparation of articles for general and nonfiction publications;

·   Moot court (role play).

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Effectiveness of training programs for lawyers and human rights defenders:

During the monitoring carried out under the project "Application of international law in the practice of the Belarusian courts", over 80 decisions of the Belarusian courts were collected. The analysis showed that, when considering appeals by lawyers and human rights defenders who justified their legal position referring to human rights standards, the courts included such references in their decisions. It has to be mentioned, that the number of such references is negligible. However, the analysis showed that in some regions, where the work of lawyers and human rights defenders is more systematic and professional, the courts are forced not only to make references to the norms regulating human rights, but also to provide analysis of these norms.

Detailed research results will be provided when the analysis of the collected courts decisions is completed.

Analysis of statistical data on registered cases of individual communications concerning Belarus to the UN Human Rights Committee, indicates that while over a period of 10 years (1997-2006) the Committee registered for consideration 38 communications, over the past 4 years (2007-2010) the number of communications increased several times and reached 104. The vast majority of the more recent communications were prepared by the participants, experts and graduates of the project Bring International Standards Home.

The percentage of unacceptable communications received from Belarus constitutes about 3.5%, while communications from France in more than 45 cases out of 80 are considered unacceptable (information based on the review of the materials of the UN Human Rights Committee on 28 October 2010).

Statistical survey of individual communications dealt with by the Human Rights Committee under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

http:www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/SURVEYCCPR100.xls

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