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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 174rd session (Mexico, 23 April 2004)

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/174/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 173rd session (October 2003),

Taking account of the information provided by Mr. Arkhipov, Chairman of the Committee on Legislation and Judicial Affairs of the House of Representatives, at the hearing held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly,

Recalling that Mr. Gonchar, together with a friend, Mr. Anatoly Krasovsky, disappeared on the evening of 16 September 1999 and has not been found since; allegations have been made attributing his “disappearance” to State-run death squads; the authorities have consistently affirmed that all these allegations were investigated but have yielded no result, for which reason the preliminary investigation was closed in January 2003; however, it was reopened in June 2003, extended to 24 November 2003 and, according to the information provided by Mr. Arkhipov at the hearing, again extended to 24 May 2004,

Recalling also 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 Sub-Committee to shed light on the circumstances of the allegedly political disappearances in Belarus and appointed a Rapporteur on the issue; considering that, while several requests for the Sub-Committee to visit Minsk were turned down, the Rapporteur, Mr. Pourgourides, was finally invited to visit Minsk, which visit took place from 5 to 8 November 2003; however, the Rapporteur’s request for a second visit in December 2003 was turned down, the Belarusian authorities having obtained a copy of his draft report by unlawful means,

Taking account of Mr. Pourgourides's report, which was adopted by the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on 27 January 2004 and is annexed to this resolution; considering that the Rapporteur, on the basis of the extensive information he gathered during his visit and documents made available to him, reached the conclusion "that a proper investigation of the disappearances has not been carried out by the competent Belarusian authorities"; on the contrary, in the light of the information he was able to gather, he has been led to believe "that steps were taken at the highest level of the State actively to cover up the true background of the disappearances, and to suspect that senior officials of the State may themselves be involved in these disappearances"; the report contains elements pointing to the involvement of the current Prosecutor General, Victor Sheyman, Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council at the time of the disappearances, Mr. Sivakov, currently Sports Minister and Minister of the Interior at the time of the disappearances, and a high-ranking officer of the special forces, Colonel Pavlichenko, in the disappearances, including that of Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Krasovsky,

Considering finally that the Belarusian delegation, most recently through Mr. Arkhipov at the hearing held in Mexico City, has consistently affirmed that the Belarusian Parliament was closely following the investigation, being continuously briefed by the Prosecutor General, and was just as anxious as the IPU to establish the whereabouts of Mr. Gonchar,

  1. Thanks the Chairman of the House Committee on Legislation and Judicial Affairs for the information he supplied;

  2. Is alarmed that very senior State officials may be involved in the disappearance of Mr. Gonchar and in cover-up activities;

  3. Considers that the shortcomings in the investigation and the evidence produced, as revealed in the PACE report, cannot be ignored by the Belarusian authorities if, as is their duty and as they have repeatedly stated, they are committed to fully elucidating the cases of disappearances in question, including that of Mr. Gonchar;

  4. Urges therefore the competent Belarusian authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure that an independent and effective investigation is conducted into this case; insists that this presupposes an investigation into the role State officials may have played, and considers in particular that the strong doubts cast on the role that the current Prosecutor General may have played disqualify him from continuing to lead the investigation in this case and should prompt the competent authorities to suspend him immediately from any responsibility in these investigations;

  5. Urges in particular the Belarusian Parliament to make use of its oversight function to ensure that these measures are indeed taken, and is confident that it will take this matter into due consideration;

  6. Wishes to be kept informed of the measures taken to ensure that a truly independent investigation is carried out and of its progress;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent authorities and to the sources;

  8. 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 111th Assembly (September-October 2004).

1    The Belarus delegation submitted a written declaration to the Secretariat protesting against paragraphs 2 and 4 of the operative part of the resolution.

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