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Belarus: Official Online Publication of Legal Acts

(Apr. 2, 2012) On February 24, 2012, President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus issued two decrees amending the system of official publication of legal acts in the country. According to these decrees, as of July 1, 2012, online publication of laws and other legal documents on the government-run National Legal Internet Portal will be recognized as the only official publication of a legal act. These decrees state that all legal acts in Belarus will enter into force immediately after their prescribed online publication. Following the existing practice, four major newspapers with nationwide circulation will be required to continue publishing laws as they do now, but these will not be official texts. (Sistema Ofitsialnogo Opublikovaniia I Vstupleniia v Silu Pravovykh Aktov v Internet Prostranstve (System of Official Publication and Entry into Force of Legal Acts in Internet Space) [in Russian], Belarus National Legal Internet Portal (Feb. 28, 2012).)

The National Registry of Legal Acts, an agency within the Ministry of Justice, is required to publish national legislation in a bulletin format after the online publication of laws, in order to inform those who have no access to the Internet about legislative developments. These bulletins will be sold through retail outlets and by subscription to interested individuals and organizations. One of the decrees includes a list of institutions designated to receive this bulletin free of charge. Procedures for online publication of legal acts issued by local and territorial government bodies are also included. (Id.)

The Government of Belarus says that daily publication of domestic laws online will ensure their timely accessibility. It cites the experience of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Portugal, where electronic versions are the only official publications of laws. Nevertheless, citizens have voiced concerns that electronic version of laws can be altered by the government retroactively. (Natsionalnyi Portal Budet Edinstvennym Mestom Ofitsialnoi Publikatsii Pravovykh Aktov (National Portal Will Be the Only Place for Official Publication of Legal Acts) [in Russian], BELARUS TELEGRAPH AGENCY (BELTA) (Feb. 27, 2012).)