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Content updated: 08-01-2021 22:43

The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, has met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of Belarusian civil society

08-01-2021

The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, has met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of Belarusian civil society. During the meeting, the possible principles for the creation of a new Belarusian Constitution were discussed and the experience in drafting and interpreting the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania was shared.

Dainius Žalimas stressed the particular importance of the constitutional court in the system of state institutions. “Experience shows that, in drafting the text of the Constitution, it is most important to agree on principles, as its text will never be ideal and, in the long term, gaps or shortcomings in the text may become apparent. It is precisely the Constitutional Court, officially interpreting the Constitution, that is necessary to properly fill these gaps or shortcomings while paying regard to the requirements of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. In this way, the Constitution remains viable and its stability and relevance in the changing life of society is ensured, – Dainius Žalimas stressed. – It is important, however, that the supremacy of the Constitution be ensured and the Constitution be interpreted by such a constitutional court that is independent of political power or even moods in society.”

Dainius Žalimas outlined the powers of the Constitutional Court and presented the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court in relation to limitations on amending the Constitution, the organisation of referendums, and other issues. Dainius Žalimas also explained that constitutional courts cannot have the powers to initiate cases by themselves, because such powers are typical of political institutions.

During the meeting, the discussion also addressed the activity of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter referred to as the CCRB) and the legal assessment, carried out by Dainius Žalimas, of the “Constitutional Legal Position on the Protection of the Constitutional Order”, adopted by this court on 25 August 2020 (hereinafter referred to as the Position).

It should be recalled that this Position, following the presidential elections in the Republic of Belarus on 9 August 2020, was adopted by the CCRB on its own initiative on 25 August 2020. In the Position, these elections were declared to be free, democratic, and legitimate and Alexander Lukashenko was recognised as the legitimately elected President of the Republic of Belarus. In addition, the formation and activity of the Coordination Council was declared anticonstitutional; as a result, the persecution of the members of the Coordination Council started and some of its members are currently under arrest.

The President of the Constitutional Court, Dainius Žalimas, having assessed the Position from the legal point of view, noted that, by having adopted the Position, the CCRB, which should safeguard the constitutional order, the supremacy of the Constitution, and the rule of law, had itself committed a manifest and grave breach of the Constitution and the general principle of the rule of law. Such a decision by the CCRB testifies to the fact that there is no judicial authority in the country that could protect the constitutional order and human rights. Dainius Žalimas assessed the Belarusian Coordination Council as the representative institution of Belarusian civil society, which had been established as an instrument of peaceful self-defence against the authoritarian regime and is based on freedoms of association and assembly, consolidated in the Constitution of Belarus and international law.

The participants of the meeting underlined the importance of international sanctions against the Belarusian judges responsible for the repressions against Belarusian civil society. Judges perform a special role in such repressions, because it is precisely judges who sanction specific repressive measures against the participants of peaceful protests and civil resistance to dictatorship.

The leader of Belarusian civil society, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, thanked Lithuania and its Constitutional Court for their active support for the aspirations of the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights in her country. According to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, such support from neighbouring countries will help the people of Belarus to overcome a difficult path to freedom.