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Valiantsin Stefanovich: Society tends not to trust the judicial system

13.11.2016  |  Society   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Valiantsin Stefanovich: Society tends not to trust the judicial system

It seems that the Supreme Court is also concerned with the distrust of the judicial system and is willing to improve the situation.

95% of the Supreme Court website visitors do not trust the Belarusian legal system.

Website of the Supreme Court has placed corresponding survey asking “Do you trust the Belarusian legal system?" The data are still being processed, but 5.25% of the respondents replied affirmatively, while 95.4% expressed their disbelief of the judicial system. As for November 9 the survey has counted more than 5800 opinions in total.

What are the tendencies and issues of the Belarusian public justice shown through the poll? Valiantsin Stefanovich, lawyer of the unregistered Human Rights Center “Viasna” replied to the questions of "EuroBelarus" Information Service.

- The figure named does not reflect reality for one simple reason: the survey was conducted at the website of the Supreme Court, therefore cannot be considered a full-fledged representative opinion poll. It reflects the opinion of the website visitors only but not the whole society.

According to sociological research, the judiciary has really low trust rating. Society tends rather not to trust the judicial system. This can be explained by many reasons, including the low percentage of acquittals – it ranges within 1 percent or even lower.

- But, perhaps, it is not the only reason for the distrust of the judicial system?

- Ordinary people think that if you've already got into a difficult situation there is no easy way out. First of all such a belief is observed regarding criminal cases.

If a citizen does not sue the state in its broadest sense but another citizen, for example, labor disputes, then it is possible to achieve positive results. But criminal justice is the most problematic, it has more serious consequences.

Every year on the World Day Against the Death Penalty we distribute leaflets. I have noticed that when you appeal to humanism it does not really affect people. But when you point out there is no perfect judicial system in the world, so what about Belarus? Securing false confessions, courts may be convicting the innocent - these arguments do catch people’s attention.

During the Kanavalau and Kavaliou trial sociologists for the first time testified that there are considerably less capital punishment supporters than opponents of death penalty with respect to a particular criminal case. When the dust settled public opinion rolled back its pre-trial state - it is not numb, it can change. Why did it happen? We believe public opinion just testified the distrust of a particular trial, of the judiciary, legal system overall.

 - 52% of visitors fully support the idea of ​​live streaming court sittings on the Internet. What does it indicate?

- Belarusian society is becoming interested in the problem of public and transparent trials. It also indicates the lack of confidence in the judicial system: better broadcast processes so that it is possible to watch them if needed.

The Supreme Court publicly raising the issue is of utmost interest. It means it is studying the situation, collecting materials for analysis and will make some conclusions. It seems that the Supreme Court is also concerned with the distrust of the judicial system and is willing to improve the situation.

But willing only is not enough in our conditions - we need to introduce numerous reforms to the judicial system for it to become an independent branch of government. It is very often that human rights defenders cannot break through the wall of the judicial system by legal means, although there are mechanisms (unfortunately, not quite legal) to get around it.

- Why would the Supreme Court raise the issue of trust of the courts at all?

- It seems to me that the Supreme Court will make appropriate conclusions – otherwise why would they start it at all? It is hoped that the survey will soon result in real measures of improving the judiciary functioning.

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