Decree 555 of Belarus: the travel ban for children from Chernobyl and Belarus
Reply to Written question
| Doc. 12078
| 09 November 2009
- Committee of Ministers
at the 1069th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (4 November 2009) 2009 - November Standing Committee
- Reply to Written question
- : Written question no. 562 (Doc. 11839)
No. 562 by Mr Omtzigt (Doc.
Since the Chernobyl disaster, many volunteers in European
countries have given hundreds of thousands of children the possibility
of a holiday with a guest family.
On 13th of October 2008 president Lukashenko published decree
555, which had entered into force a few months earlier, which made
it nearly impossible for groups of children to travel abroad.
After much international pressure the ban was suspended for
one month over the Christmas holiday. Due to late publication of
this suspension, only a small number of children was able to spend
time abroad over Christmas.
Since 21 January 2009, the ban is fully in place again. Children
are not allowed to travel unless the receiving country signs an
extensive treaty, with an enormous number of guarantees by the receiving
This stifles the work of NGO’s completely and makes exchanges
At the very same time Belarus is making a top priority of
joining the Council of Europe. For this the Human Rights situation
in Belarus should improve and part of this is the lifting of the
To ask the Committee of Ministers,
- Does the Committee of Ministers agree that the restrictions
in decree 555 are a violation of the right to travel freely (with
parental consent) for Belarus children?
- Is the Committee of Ministers prepared to make a permanent
repeal of decree 555 a precondition for a new dialogue with the
Belarus government or by which other means will the Committee of
Ministers communicate to the Belarus authorities that they should
revoke decree 555 and let these exchanges of children take place?
Reply by the Committee of Ministers
1. The Committee of Ministers
observes that it is particularly important that Belarusian children
whose lives have been affected by the consequences of the nuclear
accident in Chernobyl can travel to other countries to receive medical
care and other forms of support. At the same time, the legitimate
concern to ensure their safety during their stay abroad must be
addressed, while bearing in mind that Belarus is a Party to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Pursuant
to Article 12 (2) and (3) of the ICCPR, “everyone shall be free
to leave any country, including his own” and this right “shall not
be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by
law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or
morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent
with the other rights recognised in the […] Covenant.”
The Committee has been informed that following the publication
of Decree 555, bilateral agreements have been concluded to this
end between Belarus and some Council of Europe member states, with
a view to continuing the practice of allowing children from the
Chernobyl area to spend holidays abroad.Note
3. The Committee of Ministers hopes that the conclusion and application
in good faith of bilateral agreements will bring this matter to
a satisfactory end, first and foremost in the interest of the children concerned.
It will continue to follow this issue.