Economic Court of Minsk Refuses to Consider Appeal against the Ministry of Information

17.05.2018 Source: Press Service of Belarusian Association of Journalists Story: Заканадаўства ў галіне СМІ

Economic Court of Minsk refused to consider the appeal to invalidate the non-normative legal act issued by the Ministry of Information ruling to restrict access to Charter'97 website.



In April this year, human rights activist Pavel Levinau  appealed to the Economic Court of Minsk with a request to hold the non-normative legal act of the Ministry of Information to restrict access to Charter'97 website invalid. However, the Economic Court of Minsk refused to examine the case stating it is outside the jurisdiction of this court.

Lawyer Aleh Aheyeu emphasizes that the case is illustrative of what needs to be spelled out in the legislation on mass media.

April 19 the House of Representatives passed the bill introducing major changes in the media legislation in its first reading. However, the proposed changes do not include a procedure for appealing against blocking of websites, alleging that courts would deal with it anyway.  As one can see  now -- they will not.

"Pavel Levinau used all the mechanisms for appealing the decision of the Ministry of Information to block Charter'97. However, both branches of the judiciary - the general and the economic court - refuse to consider the complaint against the decision to block the website. Therefore, it is important that the new bill includes the procedure for appeals," - Aheyeu says .

In January, the Ministry of Information blocked access of Belarusian Internet users to Charter'97 website.

Vitebsk human rights activist and BAJ member Pavel Levinau believes that the government violated his right to receive information by this decision. That is why Levinau sent an appeal to court. February 8 Centralny court of Minsk   refused to start proceedings on the appeal stating that the case is outside the court's jurisdiction.

On March 29, Minsk City Court considered an appeal against this decision. Vitebsk human rights activist explained his reasoning to the higher court, again. Belarusian Association of Journalists joined the hearing, and expressed the opinion of the public during the procedure. BAJ has a univocal opinion on the matter: the Ministry has limited the right of citizens to receive information from Charter'97 website, and citizen are entitled to making appeals against the decision.

However, both the reasoning by Pavel Levinau and the opinion of Belarusian Association of Journalists fell on deaf ears -- the court dismissed the complaint.


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