Marinich v Belarus, UN Human Rights Committee (2006) (excerpts)

Marinich v Belarus, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 1502/2006 (excerpts)

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2.16 The author submits that the trial, which lasted from 23 to 30 December 2004, was neither independent nor unbiased. Although the hearings were declared open to the public, representatives of political parties and NGOs were effectively barred from the court room. The court building was allegedly surrounded by the police who prevented people from even approaching it. He adds that KGB officers were constantly present in the building. Two of them recorded the proceedings. The hearings were held in a small room which could seat only 12 people. He claims that during recesses, KGB officers and the judge held consultations without witnesses. Journalists allowed into the court room at the insistence of the defence and relatives were not permitted to record the hearings.

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10.5 The Committee notes the author’s claims that the court was neither independent nor unbiased as the judges were acting under instructions from the authorities; the hearings were not fully open to the public and were closely monitored by special services which taped the whole trial; and the judges tendentiously interpreted the evidence gathered by the investigation, as well as the evidence given by the witnesses and the defendant. The State party limited itself to stating that the court trial was open to the public and conducted in accordance with the criminal procedure law, and that the author’s claims of inappropriate behavior of the accusation and the judge have not been confirmed. The Committee notes the prominent profile of the author and recalls its jurisprudence that the court must provide for adequate facilities for the attendance of interested members of the public, within reasonable limits, taking into account, e.g. potential public interest in the case, the duration of the oral hearing and the time the formal request for publicity has been made. 4 It also notes that the State party did not provide any arguments as to the measures taken to accommodate the interested public taking into account the role of the author as a public figure. The Committee further notes that the author’s allegations related to the search of his and his relatives’ home as well as the search of his personal belongings, tapping of his phone, surveillance of his car, and confiscation of his money and documents. In the absence of comments from the State party to counter the allegations by the author, the Committee concludes that the facts alleged constitute a violation of article 14, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.