Updated at 01:15,21-10-2016

Global prosecution of Europes last dictator

27-09-2011, 13:21
Global prosecution of Europes last dictator

The people of the Republic of Belarus have commenced the first-ever worldwide prosecution of a sitting Dictator.

Through the global open-source release of a prosecution file that shows Alexander Lukashenkos torture and abuse of the Belarusian people, lawyers in any jurisdiction will now be able seek his arrest, wherever he travels and in any jurisdiction. This new approach to international justice newly empowers victims against despots, war criminals and other human rights offenders. No longer will they have to wait for their governments to take action.

Lukashenko, commonly known as the Last Dictator in Europe has held on to power in Belarus for too long through fraudulent and unfair elections, intimidation, threats and violence.

Lukashenko and other Belarusian state officials, stand accused of the unlawful taking, detention, torture, and mistreatment of opposition presidential candidates and campaigners (see www.mccue-law.com/belarus and www.freebelarusnow.org for details). Many of the victims are still being detained and remain at risk, as are many other citizens of Belarus.

Lukashenko has been widely criticized by the international community and human rights organisations for orchestrating these crimes. Both he and other members of his regime remain the subject of U.S. and E.U. sanctions for their egregious human rights violations.

McCue & Partners, represent Lukashenkos victims, their families and the campaign group Free Belarus Now that initiated this legal action. Heading a Belarusian/international coalition of leading lawyers, it has prepared a criminal case against him on charges of torture and hostage taking. We would like to see charges brought against Lukashenko in Belarus but, because of his control of its state organs, including the courts, this will not happen. However, his are international crimes with universal jurisdiction and courts not just in Belarus but also all around the world may seek to prosecute Lukashenko upon these charges. The people of Belarus, whose rights have been abused and ignored by Lukashenkos courts, today invite Lukashenko to submit to the universal jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales or any other E.U. country where a fair trial can be guaranteed and face serious criminal charges of torture and other international crimes.

McCue & Partners also announces that it will share its case papers and files of evidence with governments, private lawyers and NGOs worldwide who may wish to seek to bring Lukashenko to justice. If national governments do not take action against Lukashenko then civil society will do so. The papers have been prepared by McCue & Partners with the assistance of a group of international lawyers and experts including Mark Muller Q.C., the current Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, and regional experts, Professor Bill Bowring and Dr. Andrew Wilson. The Case Summary will be available for download from www.mccue-law.com/belarus and other material on request to enquiries@mccue-law.com. It will not share information on who we have already partnered, or will partner, with and thus in which jurisdictions prosecutions papers are ready to be filed. The campaign will not give Lukashenko that courtesy and advantage, suffice to say, he can be assured that there are few places in the world where justice will now not be waiting for him. His victims and the ordinary people of Belarus have thus effectively sought to impose a worldwide travel ban on the Last Dictator in Europe.

Wherever Lukashenko travels, he now faces the prospects of prosecution. The international community of nations and its organizations has so far failed to hold Lukashenko to account and to prevent further human rights abuses in Belarus. Only the EU and US has managed to maintain an intermittent travel ban: lifting it when Lukashenko promises to reform only to re-impose it when he inevitably offends again. Unless Lukashenko is prepared to face justice, a de facto peoples travel ban has now been imposed by his victims and the people of Belarus. By preparing this prosecution, his victims, their families, and international civil society have ensured that impunity with respect to torture and electoral fraud in Europe will not stand in 21st Century. Just like his opponents, who live in constant fear for their safety and that of their families, Lukashenko must now look over his shoulder wherever he travels.

This private method of international justice constitutes a new campaign against impunity and torture in Europe. Never before has a prosecution file been made available to civil society worldwide to ensure that there can be no hiding place for international criminals and human rights abusers. In a world of diplomacy, political expediency, and Realpolitik, victims can no longer afford to wait for their governments or the international community to take action. If the prohibition of international crimes, such as torture, is to have real teeth, it is civil society that must seek to enforce it.

The victims families, some of whom are resident in the U.K., confirm that if Lukashenko travels here they will prosecute him. They say that if Lukashenko believes that he has committed no crimes then he should travel here to address the charges against him. If he is guilty then he will continue to hide from the allegations against him. We would be willing to agree that the U.K. authorities afford Lukashenko the right of entry to the UK (i.e. a lifting of the travel ban) to face justice.

Should Lukashenko accept our invitation and face his victims he may seek to claim general immunity from prosecution on the ground that he is a sitting head of state. We do not accept that, after the fraudulent elections of 2010, Lukashenko remains the lawfully elected President of Belarus and thus has no right to such immunity. Moreover, we believe that it is time to revisit the issue of state immunity, torture and impunity within Europe having regard to developments within international law and state practice.

The Free Belarus Now campaign wishes to stress that this is only the first step in the fight for justice. While not wishing to publicize full details of its programme for a free Belarus, it can announce that civil proceedings will be issued in the near future against Lukashenko and other members of his regime. By seeking multi-million-dollar compensation from Lukashenko and his regime, the campaign aims to freeze his ill-begotten assets and force those around him to abandon the last dictator of Europe.


Irina Bogdanova (family of victim and detained political opponent Andrei Sannikov):

"Like many Belarusians, members of my familyhave been persecuted and tortured at the hands of Lukashenkos regime. This continues as we speak. The action today provides little respite from our daily anguish. We do this not to aleviate our suffering, but to ensure that future generations of Belarusians are afforded the rights and freedoms that we are denied."

Eva Neklyaeva (family of victim and political opponent Vladimir Neklyaev):

"I hope for justice, for my family and for all victims of totalitarian regimes worldwide."

Irina Krasovskaya (widow of murdered political opponent Anatoly Krasovsky and President of the We Remember Foundation):

"Relatives of those people who were kidnapped and killed do not have a hope for the Rule of Law under Lukashenko's Belarus. There have been twelve years of uncertainty, awaiting and despair. I do not want anyone else to live through such a nightmare and pain. I want to see Belarus as a free country, a democratic one, one that respects the Rule of Law and a country that gives protection to its own people, including a right to life. Political kidnappings take place only under the dictatorship. Only if we get rid off it we will get to know the destiny of our beloved ones."

Natalia Koliada (victim of Lukashenkos regime and Director of the Belarus Free Theatre):

"At best governments passively observe Belarus from the sidelines, at worst, they benefit from collaborating with a corrupt and oppressive regime. We want the people of the world to know that we need their support for todays action. Together we can achieve what our governments have failed to do. We have the opportunity, for the first time in history, to create a Europe free of dictators."


Tom Stoppard:

The levers of private prosecution and civil action are always to hand but seldom graft and never before in such an organised and comprehensive manner.

This initiative by McCue and Partners is unprecedented and there can be no more suitable object for it than Lukashenko who has turned Belarus into a gangster fiefdom.

Denunciations of Lukashenko have not been in short supply. Nor have high level moves in the game.

Meanwhile the dictator of Belarus has entrenched himself and widened the scope of brutality.

This is a different kind of response at the level of the victims themselves and the assistance of the Bar Human RightsCommittees Chairman, Mark Muller QC and his legal advisers, is particularly to be applauded.

Jude Law:

"We are looking at an issue of political freedom today, an international wrong that needs putting right. But this didn't start with politicians, it started with artists. The voice of international artists is important to help strengthen the voice of the people of Belarus who stand up for their human rights, so the world will listen."

David Kramer, President of Freedom House and former Assistant Secretary of State:

"Pursuing accountability for and justice against Europe's last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, is very important, and this initiative is to be applauded. Lukashenko, after all, is accused of gross human rights violations, electoral fraud, and corruption, for which the European Union and United States have imposed sanctions. This effort reminds us that the people of Belarus and Lukashenko's victims are resilient and have power."

Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN:

"Its an amazing day for human rights in Europe when civil society groups need to take action of this kind against a regime that has violated a range of fundimental human rights. I hope that the governments of Europe will now wake up to the urgent need to protect the human rights of the people of Belarus."

English PEN is the founding centre of the worldwide writers association with centres in more than 100 countries. English PEN promotes the freedom to write, and the freedom to read.


Jason McCue, Senior Partner, McCue & Partners:

"Dictators and rogue regimes have evaded the law for too long. They do this through brutality and jumping through loopholes in sovereign and international law. We have developed a pragmatic solution to fill the gaps. Lukashenko and other would-be dictators around the world had better sit up and pay attention to this precedent. It is to the credit of the people of Belarus that this novel human rights tool has been developed."

Mark Muller Q.C, Senior Counsel:

Nisl id, urna tellus vestibulum arcu, at et sit pharetra odio pede, vel libero mauris suscipit sit. Ligula dolor vel ipsum posuere consequat gravida, mauris at, in suscipit magna libero enim mauris a. Sed ut imperdiet ridiculus.

Matthew Jury, Partner, McCue & Partners:

Lukashenko ensures that his crimes are unchallenged in Belarus. Meanwhile, the international response has been ineffective. It is now up to national governments and civil society to make clear that, wherever it occurs or whoever stands accused, torture will not be tolerated. We must be plain that, wherever Lukashenko travels, the law will be enforced and he will be held to account.


Dr Andrew Wilson:

"Lukashenko may hav survived his third rigged election in December 2010, but all the signs are that the Belarusian model an isolated and repressive state surviving on a social contract with nostalgic elememnts paid for with Russian money is coming to an end."

Dr Wilsons book Belarus The Last European Dictatorship will be published by Yale University Press in October.


Free Belarus Now:

"The people of Belarus are denied basic human rights under Lukashenkos regime. His draconian and oppresive policies sit in stark opposition to the values and freedoms that we take for granted as fellow Europeans. Todays legal action sends a clear message to Lukashenko that he will be held responsible for his crimes against the Belarusian people."

Index on Censorship:

Nisl id, urna tellus vestibulum arcu, at et sit pharetra odio pede, vel libero mauris suscipit sit. Ligula dolor vel ipsum posuere consequat gravida, mauris at, in suscipit magna libero enim mauris a. Sed ut imperdiet ridiculus.


Nisl id, urna tellus vestibulum arcu, at et sit pharetra odio pede, vel libero mauris suscipit sit. Ligula dolor vel ipsum posuere consequat gravida, mauris at, in suscipit magna libero enim mauris a. Sed ut imperdiet ridiculus.