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BELARUS
CASE N° BLS/05 - VICTOR GONCHAR
Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 175th session (Geneva, 1st October 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/175/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 174th session (April 2004),

Taking account of the letter of the Chairman of the Committee on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Issues of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, forwarded at the hearing the Committee held with him on the occasion of the 111th Assembly (September 2004),

Recalling that Mr. Gonchar, and a friend, Mr. Anatoly Krasovsky, disappeared on the evening of 16 September 1999 and have not been found since; allegations have been made attributing this disappearance to State-run death squads; the authorities have consistently affirmed that all these allegations were investigated without result, which was why the preliminary investigation has been continuously extended, most recently to 24 October 2004,

Recalling that the Rapporteur appointed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to elucidate the circumstances of disappearances for allegedly political reasons, concluded in his report, as endorsed by the PACE, that "a proper investigation of the disappearances has not been carried out by the competent Belarusian authorities", and that the information gathered led him "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 State officials may themselves be involved in these disappearances",

Considering that, according to the Chairman of the Committee on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Issues, the Belarusian parliamentarians have been closely following developments relating to Mr. Goncharís disappearance; however, Parliament had no power to exert pressure on the investigators or interfere with any investigation of a criminal case, including the case in question; nor was it competent to set up an inquiry commission to look into the matter; moreover, the law did not allow the investigators to disclose investigation details; he maintained that the PACE report was based on allegations and dismissed it,

Taking note of the common statement of concern adopted by the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in July 2004, which is annexed to the resolution,

  1. Cannot share the view of the authorities that the PACE report is based on allegations, and reaffirms that, on the contrary, the evidence gathered by the PACE Rapporteur cannot be dismissed since it is conclusive and well-founded, and therefore raises serious concerns about the independence and thoroughness of the investigation;

  2. Fully endorses therefore the common statement of concern;

  3. Requests the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to raise the IPUís concerns in this case in the discussions he will be holding with the authorities during his forthcoming visit to Belarus;

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

  5. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 112th Assembly (April 2005).


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COMMON STATEMENT OF CONCERN

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

  1. Remain deeply concerned at the findings of the Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as set out in his report on disappearances for allegedly political reasons in Belarus;

  2. Consider that the serious shortcomings in the investigation of such cases, as revealed in his report, and the evidence produced, including that related to the possible involvement of senior State officials, cannot be ignored by the Belarusian authorities; recall that, as in any other State, the authorities have a duty to elucidate the circumstances of these disappearances and to establish the fate of the disappeared persons;

  3. Express therefore deep concern that the authorities have so far taken no steps to investigate the well-founded allegations put forward in the Rapporteurís report and to remedy the serious shortcomings in the investigation that he revealed;

  4. Urge therefore the competent Belarusian authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure that an independent and effective investigation is conducted into these cases; emphasise that this presupposes an investigation into the role State officials may have played, and consider 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. Urge in particular the Belarusian Parliament to make use of its oversight function to ensure that these measures are indeed taken;

  6. Observe that as long as the Belarusian authorities do not investigate the evidence revealed in the report, the suspicion will remain fully justified as to the role the State officials mentioned in the report may have played in the disappearance of the persons concerned;

  7. Decide to follow closely whatever action the Belarusian authorities may take to ensure that a truly independent investigation is indeed conducted.

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