News / 30.06.19

Maria Tarasenko: Struggle against "parasite" ordinance is supported at international level

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its 41st regular session from 24 June to 12 July 2019 in Geneva. Anais Marin, the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, will present her report on the human rights situation in our country. Maria Tarasenko, a member of the REP Trade Union from Gomel, who is well-known for her struggle against the notorious "parasite" presidential ordinance, has noted that her story of suing the state will be voiced out from the high UN rostrum.

UN Human Rights Council – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. 8 May 2019

In particular, the section of Ms Marin's report entitled "Right to Social Security and Right to Work" says: "On 18 March 2019, a lawsuit requesting compensation for moral damage filed by a housewife who was included in the list was rejected by a local court. She decided to appeal the decision."

The report contains recommendations to Belarusian authorities, urging them to revise the "parasite" ordinance and bring it in line with Belarus' commitments in the domain of human rights.

Maria Tarasenko declares that she will continue the work begun, especially since already this autumn the utility bills of those included into the so-called "parasite" database will scale up by 5.5 times in what concerns the consumed gas and heating.

"We've launched a strategic litigation, which includes both legal and informational actions aimed at the abolition of the ordinance. Today, for example, at the Tsentralny District Court of Gomel, I'll appeal against four bans on the street marches, which we had planned to hold as protest actions in all the districts of Gomel, a regional capital. This week I have trials in Zhlobin, Lelchitsy, Kalinkovichi, Chechersk and Korma," the activist shared her plans.

Originally developed to stimulate employment and self-employment, the updated Ordinance 3 still contains controversial aspects, in particular, the creation of a database of able-bodied citizens who are not employed in the national economy. The Minister of Labour and Social Protection announced in December 2018 that 500,000 people had been registered in it.

The decision to include a person into the above database is made by local authorities, which raises concerns about their independence and impartiality. The persons included into this base must pay for state-subsidized services (natural gas, central heating and hot water) at their full cost, and will have to agree to any job offered to them, even if it does not match their qualifications or wishes, the report notes.

Leonid Sudalenko, a rights defender and the legal inspector of the REP Trade Union, notes that parliamentary elections are scheduled for this autumn, and by this time, to work more efficiently with all the 110 candidates for MPs, an attempt will be made to register the association "We are not parasites!"

"The work launched by Maria Tarasenko has been noticed at such a high international level, and this is evidence of the correct strategy chosen by us in combating the 'parasite' ordinance," Leonid has added, who was labelled by the authorities as "parasites' advocate."

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