Threat to expel human rights activist Yelena Tonkacheva from Belaruis is legal lynching reminiscent of Soviet times

Urgent Appeal
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International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders;

the Human Rights Center "Viasna";

the national human rights public association "Belarusian Helsinki Committee";

the public association "Belarusian Association of Journalists".

November 3, 2014


October 30, 2014 we learned that the Pershamaiski District Department of Internal Affairs in Minsk decided to annul the permit for residence in the Republic of Belarus for a prominent human rights activist, head of the Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend” Yelena Tonkacheva, and consider the question of her expulsion from the country.

The procedure of deprivation of residence in respect of the citizen of the Russian Federation Yelena Tonkacheva, who has permanently resided in Belarus since 1985, was launched in September this year. The formal reason for this are the four cases of insignificant excess of the speed limitations by Yelena Tonkacheva while driving her car which were registered by video cameras of the traffic police.

The Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”, headed by Yelena Tonkacheva, is one of the leading human rights organizations in Belarus and has carried out legitimate human rights activities in the interests of the Belarusian society for many years already. Yelena herself is an example of professionalism in the field of jurisprudence. She has dedicated many years to work in the field of human rights at both the national and international level.

We, representatives of Belarusian and international human rights organizations, consider the actions of the Belarusian authorities aimed at annulment of the residence permit and subsequent expulsion of one of the country’s leading human rights activists as politically motivated and aimed at the involuntary termination of Yelena Tonkacheva’s legitimate human rights activities or creation of significant obstacles in the conduct of such activities.

The pretext, chosen by the Belarusian authorities to deprive her of the residence permit in the country, once again emphasizes the true motivation of the authorities and is discriminatory, as such measures are not used in respect to other foreign nationals under the same or similar circumstances.

In this regard, we call upon the Belarusian authorities to:

 Cancel the decisions of the state bodies on the deprivation of Yelena Tonkacheva of her residence permit and the possible expulsion;

 Abandon the practice of creating obstacles to human rights activities on the territory of the Republic of Belarus and abide by the provisions of the UN Declaration "On the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms".

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