Yury Zakharanka disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Minsk on 7 May 1999. The criminal case was filed under “willful killing”, but was it never brought to trial. Since then, the Belarusian human rights defenders and activists keep reminding citizens and authorities about this case, and support the mother of the missing politician Ulyana Zakharanka. The interests of Ulyana Zakharanka in HRC are represented by the head of the Belarusian Documentation Center Raisa Mikhailouskaya.
On 22 August 2017 the Republic of Belarus submitted to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations information on individual complaint of Ulyana Zakharanka registered as №2991/ 2017, where indicated that she did not use all available remedies at the national level.
BDC lawyers, in their turn, prepared objections to the comments on the Republic of Belarus in relation to individual complaint of Ulyana Zakharanka; they argued that comments of Belarus are unfounded and can not be taken into consideration by the UN Human Rights Committee in its examination.
In her individual complaint Ulyana Zakharanka described all legal means and remedies which she was trying to use at the national level to challenge the alleged violations of her rights under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
E.g., on 24 May 2016 Ulyana Zakharanka applied to the Court of Kastrychnitski district of Minsk, asking to declare her son Yuri Zakharanka dead. On 30 May the judge issued a ruling on the suspension of the proceedings.
On 15 June 2016 Ulyana Zakharanka sent an appeal against above mentioned decision to the judicial board on civil cases of the Minsk City Court, which in its ruling on 1 August dismissed the appeal.
On 12 August 2016 Ulyana Zakharanka and her lawyer appealed to the Chairman of the Minsk City Court against above mentioned court orders, the Chairman dismissed the appeal. On 7 October 2016 the orders were appealed to the Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court, who also dismissed the appeal.
Thus, before the sending of individual communication to the UN Human Rights Committee, Ulyana Zakharanka has used all legal remedies provided by the laws of the Republic of Belarus. “In response to the Government’s argument that not all domestic remedies were used, in particular, there was no filed appeal to the Prosecutor General and the Chairman of the Supreme Court for supervision, it should be noted that the supervision measure is not a domestic remedy that it is mandatory to run out before applying to the Committee, as it is understood in the Optional protocol to the International Covenant on civil and political Rights”, the BDC human rights defenders underlined.
Complaint in order of supervision can not be regarded as a remedy, as supervisory appeal does not automatically raise the procedure of its consideration. The applicant refers to the official (chairman of the court) to initiate such a procedure, namely to bring the protest, which is considered by a collegial body – the Presidium of the Court. Consideration of the complaint in order of supervision by the supervisory officer alone, without public hearings, also does not allow to consider such complaint as a remedy.
In accordance with paragraph 2b of Article 5 of the Optional Protocol, the Committee shall not consider any communication unless it has ascertained that the author has used all available domestic remedies. However, the legal practice of the Committee provides that the rule of exhaustion applies only if these remedies are effective and available. In accordance with its practice, the Committee doesn’t consider the supervisory complaint as an effective remedy.
“Thus, the individual complaint by Ulyana Zakharanka against the Republic of Belarus is acceptable, since it fully meets the requirements set out in paragraph 2 a) and b) of article 5 of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” BDC lawyers noted.
It should be noted that the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was held on 30 August. For Belarus, the topic of the missing opponents of the regime is being relevant for almost two decades.
In the autumn of 1999 the former deputy of the Supreme Council, former Deputy Prime Minister Viktar Hanchar and businessman Anatol Krasouski disappeared. They went out of sauna and have not been seen ever again.
In 2000, cameraman Dmitry Zavadsky was kidnapped in the Minsk airport; he arrived to meet his friend and colleague Paval Sharamet.
The fate of the missing people have not been clarified so far. Suspected are security officials from former and current circle around Aliaksandar Lukashenka: Uladzimir Navumau, Viktar Sheiman, Yuri Sivakou, Dzmitry Pauliuchenka.