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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 173rd session (Geneva, 3 October 2003)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Victor Gonchar, a member of the Thirteenth Supreme Soviet of Belarus, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/173/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 171st session (September 2002),

Taking account of the information provided by the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Affairs of the House of Representatives on the occasion of the 109th Assembly; also taking account of information provided by one of the sources on 22 September 2003,

Taking further into consideration communications from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe dated 15 and 26 September 2003,

Recalling that Mr. Gonchar, together with a friend, Mr. Anatoly Krasovsky, disappeared in the evening of 16 September 1999 and that no trace has since been found of them; according to the authorities, the genotypic testing of the bloodstains found at the place of their disappearance revealed that the blood was that of Mr. Gonchar,

Considering that, according to the authorities, since the investigation revealed nothing although all eventualities regarding about Mr. Gonchar's fate had been thoroughly examined, the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office decided on 20 January 2003 to suspend the preliminary investigation; however, on 24 June 2003, the investigation was reopened at the request of Mrs. Gonchar on the basis of a list she provided detailing the investigative actions that the authorities had failed to carry out; moreover, Mr. Gonchar's name was put on the search list of competent inter-State and international bodies; all units of the Ministry of the Interior of Belarus and the law-enforcement agencies of the Baltic Republics, Ukraine and Russia have been requested to search for Mr. Gonchar, and the information gathered about him was sent to Interpol with the relevant requests,

Considering that, in September 2002, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) set up an ad hoc subcommittee to shed light on the circumstances of the allegedly political disappearances in Belarus, Mr. Gonchar's case being among the four cases of missing persons it has decided to prioritise in order to obtain further information on their fate; however, to date the Belarusian authorities have not been ready to invite either the subcommittee or its Rapporteur to Minsk despite the letters to that effect by the competent PACE authorities; the aim of such a visit would be to follow up a number of potential leads resulting from submissions made by witnesses to the subcommittee,

Considering finallythat the parliamentary authorities have stated on several occasions that the Parliament of Belarus is committed to ensuring that full light is shed on the circumstances of Mr. Gonchar's disappearance and his whereabouts, and that President Lukashenko has pressed the competent authorities to speed up the investigation,

  1. Thanks the parliamentary authorities, particularly the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Affairs, for their consistent cooperation;

  2. Is pleased to note that the investigation, after being suspended, was reopened and is confident that the investigative authorities will sustain their efforts until Mr. Gonchar's whereabouts have been established; recalls in this respect Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992, which calls for investigations to be conducted "for as long as the fate of the victim of enforced disappearance remains unclarified";

  3. Notes with satisfaction Parliament's commitment to ensuring that Mr. Gonchar's disappearance is elucidated; invites it therefore to make every effort to ensure that the competent authorities cooperate to this end with the PACE "Subcommittee to shed light on the circumstances of the allegedly political disappearances in Belarus", and calls on it to invite the Subcommittee to visit Minsk, as that body has requested;

  4. Requests the Secretary General to continue sharing with the Subcommittee all information it has on file in order to facilitate its work;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to inform the President of the Republic of Belarus of its concerns in the case and to convey the decision to the parliamentary authorities, the Minister of the Interior and the Prosecutor General;

  6. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session to be held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly.

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