7 March 2021, Sunday, 21:28
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

The Hague Awaits

The Hague Awaits
Andrei Sannikau

There are several procedures for initiating cases in the International Criminal Court against the Lukashenka clique.

Complete legal chaos in Belarus is by no means a revelation of recent months for us, Belarus citizens. We do not have independent justice, and under Lukashenka, there was none, as well as there is no separation of powers: all power is concentrated in the hands of a tyrant-psychopath.

For a long time, Western countries were "embarrassed" to notice that Lukashenka was building a concentration camp in Europe, cynically explained their unwillingness to besiege the presumptuous boor with an "insignificant" number of victims and "insignificant" repressions.

Today the dictator has done everything to completely dispel illusions about his regime's nature and himself as a brutal bandit.

The horrific facts of arrests, beatings, torture, and murder of civilians serve as an extensive evidence base for the regime's crimes.

There are also confessions of Lukashenka himself and all sorts of karaeus, balabas, kurbakous, tsertsels, and karpiankous about who gave criminal orders, who carried them out and who covered up the crimes. Moreover, these are not only leaks organized by the special services but also revelations of presumptuous criminals themselves, who have repeatedly publicly admitted that they are using violence against citizens in violation of all laws.

Calls to the repressive authorities in Belarus to investigate crimes against the people, crimes against humanity are touching. The regime will never investigate its crimes, let alone punish anyone. Even the killings of peaceful protesters are not being investigated, which in itself is already a crime.

In such situations, when criminals in power threaten an entire people, justice can and should be carried out by the international community.

The well-known Belarusian human rights activist Harry Pahanyaila is right when he recently called for the consideration of the Belarusian situation in the UN Security Council.

The prominent Lithuanian politician, until recently Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevicius, who wrote on his Twitter account that the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the crimes of the Lukashenka regime will become a real manifestation of solidarity with the people of Belarus, is even more right.

Indeed, today the all-Belarusian desire to send "Lukashenka to the Hague!" acquired completely concrete outlines.

I will try to describe the shortest path for its implementation, as I understand it.

There are several procedures for bringing proceedings before the International Criminal Court, even against incumbent heads of state. The most serious of these procedures is the decision of the UN Security Council.

It can be a decision to create an international tribunal for the crimes of Lukashenka's clique or a decision to conduct an international investigation of this clique's crimes against humanity.

Contrary to popular belief that because of the veto of two states in the Security Council - China and the Soviet Union (and now Russia) - it is impossible to make a decision there without their consent, today the situation is different. Several precedents had emerged, such as the investigation of crimes in Syria or the crash of Malaysian flight MH17, when a Security Council veto did not prevent international investigations.

Competent actions and norms of international law will make it possible to overcome both the veto and other formal issues that impede international justice administration.

In both cases, to establish a tribunal or initiate an investigation, a Security Council resolution is needed.

Practical task number 1 is the preparation of its project. This requires joint work of representatives of the Belarusian opposition and interested states. The assurances of democratic states in support of the Belarusian people, non-recognition of the dictator, and the regime's crimes should be transferred into a practical plane of work on the draft resolution, which should provide for the mechanism of international justice.

Practical task number 2 is the discussion of the draft of the prepared resolution to adopt it. It is impossible to do this at an official meeting of the UN Security Council because of Russia and China's position. Still, for such a discussion, there is the "Arria's formula," that is, holding informal meetings at the initiative of one or several members of the Security Council, which allow an open exchange of views with the participation of persons, which the member or members of the Council thought it would be useful to hear. This procedure does not need the consent of all members of the UN Security Council. This formula has already been applied at the meeting on Belarus on September 4 at the initiative of Estonia, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, with the participation of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. It was a very strong and unprecedented gesture of support for democratic Belarus. It is a pity that there was no continuation because the meeting was also notable because a representative of the Lukashenka regime and an official representative of Russia took part in it. Thus, they recognized the legitimacy of discussing the situation in Belarus with the participation of the opposition. This should be used and continued to work The Security Council on Belarus according to the "Arria's formula," especially since now there are more opportunities for this: in 2021, Ireland and Norway, countries known for their strong traditions in the field of human rights protection, became non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in addition to Estonia. Also, in the coming months, the Security Council will be chaired by two permanent members, on whom much depends and who can achieve the necessary decisions: in February - Great Britain, and in March - the United States.

Practical task number 3 is voting on a resolution on the situation in Belarus containing proposals to create a mechanism for an international investigation of the Lukashenka regime's crimes. Taking into account the imminent chairmanships of Great Britain and the United States, this task can be solved in the shortest possible time. By adopting the Magnitsky Act, the UK has demonstrated a commitment to upholding human rights around the world and resorting to harsh penalties for violations of these rights. The new US administration also stressed its commitment to the principles of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Practical task number 4 is the preparation of a decision by the UN General Assembly on the creation of a mechanism for an international investigation of the crimes of the Lukashenka regime, if, as expected, Russia and China use a veto in the Security Council against the resolution on Belarus. The adoption of the General Assembly's decision will actually allow to start an international investigation and prepare a legal basis for the establishment of an international tribunal for crimes against humanity in Belarus.

The UN headquarters in New York, where the Security Council meets, if desired, can be made a serious platform for the protection of human rights in Belarus and a thorough examination of the issue of the crimes of the Lukashenka regime. Moreover, in New York, there is a direct participant in these crimes, Natallia Piatkevich, who for many years played the most active role in organizing repressions, provocations, and punitive measures against civil society in Belarus as a press secretary of the dictator, deputy head of his administration and his assistant. She took an active part in the preparation of provocations and dispersal of peaceful demonstrators in December 2010 at the Square in Minsk.

Piatkevich is in New York as the wife of the current representative of Lukashenka's punitive forces at the UN.

Her testimony at the UN Security Council meeting on Belarus would be very useful for considering the essence of the issue.

Even the draft resolution of the UN Security Council will become an instrument of solidarity with the people of Belarus. In addition, the draft UN Security Council resolutions "do not burn" along with the manuscripts.

Andrei Sannikau, Facebook