Revocation of licences to practice law in Belarus
Who we wrote to
The minister of justice of the Republic of Belarus.
We wrote the letter jointly with Lawyers for Lawyers, a Dutch foundation that seeks to promote the proper functioning of the rule of law by pursuing freedom and independence of the legal profession.
What's the issue
We are concerned about the revocation of the licences to practice of the Belarus lawyers Aliaksandr Pylchanka and Yulia Levanchuk on 15 October 2020.
Aliaksandr Pylchanka represents detained opposition leaders Viktar Babaryka and Maria Kalesnikava. The decision to revoke his licence was taken by the Qualification Commission for legal practice in the Republic of Belarus based on his alleged involvement in “the commission of a misdemeanour incompatible with the title of lawyer”, namely “the commission of actions discrediting the bar”.
Yulia Levanchuk represents Maksim Kharoshyn, the owner of a flower shop in Minsk who handed out flowers to protesters. Maksim Kharoshyn was so badly beaten when he was detained on 13 October 2020 that he needed hospitalisation. Yulia Levanchuk's licence was revoked by the authorities due to the fact she allegedly made threats in her online conversation with the investigator in charge of her client’s case.
Both these lawyers have denied the charges against them and are in the process of appealing the decision to revoke their licences.
We believe that the revocation of these licences is related to the professional activities of these lawyers and constitutes improper interference with such activities.
What we asked for
We urged the relevant authorities in Belarus to:
- review and reverse the decisions revoking the licences of Aliaksandr Pylchenka and Yulia Levanchuk
- abstain from any further measures that would constitute improper interference with the professional activities of Aliaksandr Pylchenka and Yulia Levanchuk
- guarantee that all lawyers in Belarus are able to practise law without threat, intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or reprisals
What have we previously said
We have been monitoring the situation in Belarus and have published previous letters:
- On 24 September we wrote about the arrest and detention of lawyers Maksim Znak and Illia Salei in Belarus
- On 20 August we wrote about the 6,000 citizens of Belarus who have been arrested and detained for taking part in largely peaceful protests, of which many didn't have access to a legal representative of their own choosing, or to any legal representative