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Prosecution service have disclosed information about Ales Belyatsky

It has come to the attention of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights that on 27 June 2011 the Polish Prosecutor General’s Office has provided Belarusian authorities with details of the Polish bank accounts held in the name of Ales Belyatsky, head of the Human Rights Centre Vesna, a Belarusian human rights advocacy. We have received these disturbing news from Mr Belyatsky’s associates.Maciej Kujawski, spokesperson for the Prosecutor General’s Office said ‘The Office has carried out a request for legal assistance concerning Alexander Belyatsky. However, the motion itself failed to mention anything that would indicate that it targeted an opposition activist or his political action.’

Ales Belyatsky, one of the most prominent Belarusian human rights advocates, is  the head of the Human Rights Centre Vesna and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights. Earlier this year, in June, he was presented with the Freedom Award during the Global Forum in Wrocław. The award was also presented to Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, on behalf of the Polish people.

On Thursday 4 August, Mr Belyatsky was arrested in Minsk. In a special statement, the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek urged Belarusian authorities to release Belyatsky.

On 26 October 1994, Poland and Belarus entered into an agreement on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family, employment and criminal cases. ‘However, article 19 of this agreement says that legal assistance may be denied if the provision of such assistance runs counter to basic principles of national law’, said Dr Adam Bodnar, Vice-President of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, at a press conference.

In the opinion of the HFHR the action taken by the Polish prosecution service exposed the activist to the actual threat of imprisonment.

‘We think that the disclosure of this information discredits Poland’s involvement for democracy, human rights protection and aid for the oppressed in Belarus’, said Bogna Chmielewska, an HFHR expert.

‘We believe that the disclosed details concerned not only Mr Belyatsky. Consequently, the names of other persons whose data was given to Belarusian authorities should be made public’, demanded Danuta Przywara, President of the HFHR Board. ‘We request this case be explained as soon as possible’, she added.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights firmly recommends the introduction of a clear protocol preventing disclosure of information regarding opposition activists in anti-democratic regimes.

The Foundation also is a signatory to the appeal of the Zagranica Group issued in this case to Prime Minister Tusk. Together with other non-governmental organisations, the HFHR urges the Government to ‘immediately cease the disclosure of any information on Belarusian citizens to Belarusian authorities, until mechanisms to guarantee safety for opposition activists and human rights defenders are put in place’.

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