Judicial System

Judicial System
According to the Constitution, judicial power in Belarus belongs to the courts. However, the severe interference of the President and executive power in the process of forming the judiciary establishment (including dismissal of judges), control over financial support of the courts, the President’s political leverage on the courts – external factors in total make it possible to say for certain that there is no independent judicial system in Belarus.

The judicial system consists of three main branches:

The Constitutional Court adjudicates disputes concerning compliance of regulatory legal acts to the Constitution, however, the citizens have no right to bring a court action directly before the Constitutional Court (only a few state authorities enjoy the right).

The Constitutional Court consists of 12 experts highly qualified in the field of law. Six judges of the Court are appointed by the President of the Republic of Belarus and six are elected by the Council of the Republic.

The Chairperson of the Constitutional Court is appointed by the President with the consent of the Council of the Republic. The term of a judge of the Constitutional Court is 11 years.

Courts of general jurisdiction (including special military courts for military personnel). Courts of general jurisdiction hear civil, criminal, administrative offence cases as well as cases where military personnel are involved.

Courts of general jurisdiction comprise the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus, regional courts, Minsk municipal court, municipal (district) courts and military courts.

Economic courts adjudicate disputes between legal entities, some other economic and business affairs including those with foreign economic entities involved. Economic courts comprise the Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Belarus, regional economic courts and economic court of the city of Minsk.

There is neither a specific administrative justice system nor criminal appeal proceedings (there is only the possibility to review a case under cassational procedure without a proper reinvestigation of all the evidences) in Belarus.

The structure of the judicial system, interference in court affairs as well as involvement of judges in political repressions determined the conclusion on the absence of a fair and independent court in the country made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers in the report concerning the results of a visit to Belarus in 2008.

Yury Chaussov, political scientist

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists