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Joint Stance of Political Parties Regarding Inquiry of Ministry of Justice to Provide Personal Data of Party Members

05.11.2020

On October 26, five Belarusian political parties voiced their joint statement regarding unlawful inquiry by the Ministry of Justice to provide personal lists of members of political parties.

While presenting the statement to the press, party leaders claimed that they considered unlawful inquiry to provide personal data of political parties’ members as a threat of pressure on activists, especially on those party members who work on state-owned enterprises. Ryhor Kastusiou, the BPF Party Chairman, noticed during the press-conference that this the most large-scale inspection of political parties’ activity was taking place by personal order of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who had publicly ordered the Ministry of Justice to deal with those parties which had called to release political prisoners and stop tortures and violence.

The statement was signed by leaders of the BPF Party, UCP, BSDP Hramada, Party of the Left Fair World and Green Party.

Joint Stance of Political Parties Regarding Inquiry of Ministry of Justice to Provide Personal Data of Party Members

Belarusian political parties have received the inquiry from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus to provide information about “personal numbers of the party (lists, protocols and other documents)”, as well as documents on activity of organizational structures of the party (data about members of elected bodies, lists, protocols and others).

These inquiries are continuation of the most large-scale in Belarusian history inspection of party structures which is now being conducted by registering bodies. Aliaksandr Lukashenka has started this campaign by ordering to conduct “re-registration of political parties”. Moreover, even before start of this inspection, he groundlessly and prooflessly claimed that parties had derogated from their charters and programs, having signed on September 10, 2020 the joint statement about necessity to stop violence in the country, investigate killings, beatings and tortures and resolve the conflict through dialogue.

In its comments, the Ministry of Justice also presents the inspection, which is now taking place, exactly as “re-registration”, which is not stipulated by the legislation of the Republic of Belarus.

Belarusian political parties claim that they conduct their activity in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On political parties” and other legislative acts of the Republic of Belarus. Among other, every party annually submits the stipulated by law reports about the number of members, presence of organizational structures, governing, controlling and auditing bodies, etc. by March 1.

During September, the above-mentioned data together with authenticated documents were repeatedly submitted in accordance with justice agencies’ inquiry. In the course of this inspection, a written warning has already been issued to the Belarusian Green Party.

The Ministry of Justice for the third time in the short time frame requests the same documents. This time it groundlessly requests lists of political parties’ members.

Requests to provide information about “personal numbers of parties” are not stipulated by legislation and directly contradict Part 3 of Article 3 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On political parties”, according to which requirements to state citizen’s membership or non-membership in any political party in official documents are not allowed.  According to Part 2 of Article 6 of the Law, interference of state organs and officials in activity of political parties is not allowed.

The law stipulates provision of the list of party founders during state registration (what have been done by every party while undergoing state registration), other reasons to request personal data and lists of members are not provided for. The norm to avoid additional burdensome requirements, including those to confirm the number of party members, is laid out in p. 76 of the  Guidelines of Political Party Regulation , adopted by the OSCE and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe with participation of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus.

Besides, data about citizens’ party membership relate to personal data field, privacy of which is protected by law and groundless collection or accumulation of which is an unlawful act.

In the context of political crisis, which is followed by violence, arbitrary detentions, tortures, dismissals and coercion against political opponents, collection of personal data about party members may pose a threat to personal security of party activists.

Previous experience has shown that justice agencies widely practice forwarding of party members’ personal data to other state organs, including internal affairs agencies (allegedly for additional check). Taking this into account, there are grounds to think that the collected data about members of opposition parties could be used by respective bodies against them and lead to harm to rights and legitimate interests of members of political parties.

Taking into account the above-mentioned and guided by the norms of Article 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On political parties”, we, representatives of Belarusian political parties of various ideologies:  

  • Condemn the Ministry of Justice campaign on persecution of political parties for their expressed political stance on the situation in the country;
  • Think that this campaign can lead to complete demolition of political parties in Belarus;
  • Claim that we will in full provide the Ministry of Justice with documents, which political parties have and provision of which is stipulated by the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On political parties”;
  • Claim that provision of personal lists of party members contradicts the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On political parties”;
  • Propose that the Ministry of Justice should organize a meeting with representatives of all political parties of the Republic of Belarus to discuss the current situation, as well as discuss prospects of adoption of a new edition of the Law “On political parties”.

 

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