Association in Belarus

People in Belarus are unable to form associations without the government’s permission. Despite international and constitutional commitments, the government of Belarus has continued to subvert the right to freedom of association through legislative restrictions targeting organisations that are critical of the government. Judicial harassment, freezing financial assets and legal instruments are all used to silence ‘unfavourable’ CSOs. Forty nine separate legal documents affect the environment for civil society, illustrating the extent of the over-regulation of the civil society sector. Foreign financial assistance can only be legally accessed for certain activities, which do not include human rights work, educational activity or gender equality. Politicised and selective approval of CSO registration requests exacerbates these problems. Non-registered CSOs are classed as illegal and are thus vulnerable to prosecution. For example, Local human rights organisation Viasna has suffered relentless intimidation and harassment, and was repeatedly refused registration.