Dear President ,

I  request your intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

Description of the situation:

I have been informed by reliable sources of the arrest and alleged detention of Mr. Aleh Volchek, Head of “Legal Aid to the Population”, an organisation that provided legal assistance and was liquidated in 2003. The organisation recently published a report about the trial of Mr. Ales Bialiatski, President of HRC Viasna and FIDH Vice-President. Mr. Volchek’s recent work focused notably on political prisoners.

According to the information received, on January 27, 2012, at around 3:35 pm, Mr. Aleh Volchek was arrested by the police in the street in Minsk, not far from the boulevard Shevchenko, in relation to charges of “petty hooliganism” under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code. The exact reasons of his detention are not known.

As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Aleh Volchek remained detained in Maskouski District Police Department of Minsk. He is due to appear before the Central District Court of Minsk on January 30, 2012.

I express my deepest concern about the arrest of Mr. Aleh Volchek and calls for his immediate and unconditional release since it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities.

Actions requested:

i. Please guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Aleh Volchek, as well as of all human rights defenders in Belarus;

ii. Release Mr. Aleh Volchek immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary;

iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against him, including at the judicial level, and more generally against all human rights defenders in the country;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:

- its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.

I thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely yours,

William Nicholas Gomes

William’s Desk

www.williamgomes.org

CC:

· Administration of the President of Belarus, Head of the Administration of the President of Belarus, Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Makei, Ul. K. Marksa 34, 220016 Minsk, Fax: + 375 17 226-06-10

· General Prosecutor, Grigory Alekseevich Vasilevich, Internatsionalnaya str. 22, 220050 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52

· Minister of Justice of Belarus, Mr. Viktor Grigorevich Golovanov, Ul. Kollektornaya, 10, 220004 Minsk, Belarus, Email [email protected]

· President of the Supreme Court of Belarus, Mr. Valentin Olegovich Sukalo, Ul. Lenina, 28, 220030 Minsk, Belarus, Email: [email protected]

· Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 avenue de la paix, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: [email protected]

· Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, 192 avenue Molière, 100 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2.340.02.87, Email : [email protected]

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William Nicholas Gomes is a human rights activist and freelance journalist based in Britain.

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