News / 20.05.19

UN Special Rapporteur: we prepare to launch a campaign in support of the REP Trade Union

During his visit to Belarus, Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, had a meeting with Gennady Fedynich.

The REP leader told the about the meeting:

"Michel Forst took a brief interview from me for the campaign #TogetherWeDefend, which launched to support human rights defenders around the world. The campaign was initiated by Mr Special Rapporteur himself. He said that he sees his mission primarily in helping and promoting the international solidarity. Given the unfavourable conditions for the work of rights defenders in many parts of the world, it is precisely solidarity campaigns that will make them feel not alone and once again draw the attention of the world community to the problem of repressions against those who are actively fighting for human rights. Besides, the website posts stories about rights defenders from different countries and invites to send messages to them."

"The Special Rapporteur also expressed a lot of interest in the situation around the 'trade union case' and violations of the rights of independent trade unions in Belarus. Mr Forst said that he was following the news about the pressure on the REP. He supports the position that the 'trade union case' is highly politicized and was a reprisal for the trade union's activeness, including the REP's actions against the 'parasite' ordinance in 2017."

According to Michel Forst, a campaign in support of the REP Trade Union will soon be launched on the website TogetherWeDefend.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Gennady Fedynich continues, "when Mr Forst, after our interview, noted that for the first time he saw such active work of a trade union in the post-Soviet space and in Europe in general. This is a very high appreciation of our activities. Indeed, the number of people's calls, addresses and visits to the REP is growing every month, and we are pleased that our work is also noticed by the international community."

"The Special Rapporteur asked about our verdict – the so-called 'house chemistry' (the freedom restriction regime, awarded by the court to Fedynich and Komlik, called like that, because earlier such convicts were sent to forced labour, mainly at enterprises of chemical industry, – note of the REP News) – is being served. He believes that the procedure for entering convicts into the list of political prisoners should be revised. According to the current established criteria, only a human rights defender or an activist, sentenced to imprisonment on vividly political motives is declared to be a political prisoner. However, 'house chemistry' is also a measure of severe freedom restraint. The fact that the person it not in jail does not mean that the restrictions, measures of control and supervision, applied by law enforcers, a permanent threat of receiving a fine, reprimand or warning at any time are not pressure. Human rights organizations should expand the criteria for the recognition of convicts as political prisoners."

Within the framework of his individual four-day visit, Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation with rights defenders, also met Belarusian human rights activists, officials of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. His Special Rapporteur mandate expires in the summer of 2020. But, according to his story, he intend to go on defending human rights and rights defenders, because he treats it as the main mission of his life.

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