Belarus: Stop harassment of human rights defenders
04 Nov 14

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus
to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus
to Ireland with concurrent accreditation
Mr. Sergei Aleinik
6 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL
3 November 2014

Dear Mr. Aleinik,

Index on Censorship is alarmed by the news that a well-known human rights defender, Elena Tonkacheva, has had her permit to reside in Belarus canceled and may be deported from the country.

Elena Tonkacheva, Chairperson of the Board of the Legal Transformation Center, although being a citizen of the Russian Federation has permanently resided in Belarus since 1985, and for years has been engaged in educational, analytical and research work in the field of human rights. Ms Tonkacheva is a highly qualified expert in law and human rights; the organisation headed by her is one of the leading human rights NGOs in Belarus.

On 30 October 2014, Ms Tonkacheva was notified about the cancelation of her residence permit and on 5 November 2014 a decision will be made as to whether she is to be deported from Belarus. The formal reason for that are administrative breaches (insignificantly exceeding speed limit when driving).

However, the disproportionate measures used by the Belarusian authorities in this case give grounds to believe that these minor breaches are used solely as a pretext to punish Ms Tonkacheva for her principled position and long-term human rights work and either to stop or create considerable obstacles in her human rights activities.

In this connection, we appeal to the Belarusian authorities to:

− Repeal the decision to cancel Ms Tonkacheva’s residence permit and not to deport her from Belarus;

− Take effective measures to protect human rights defenders and provide them with a possibility to carry out their human rights activities without any obstacles, as stipulated in 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 from 9 December 1998;

− Be guided by the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus to “recognize the important role of human rights defenders, whether  individuals or members of civil society organizations, and guarantee the independence of civil society organizations and human rights defenders, enabling them to operate without
the fear of reprisal.”1

Index on Censorship

1 A/69/307 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus

President of the Republic of Belarus
Aliaksandr Lukashenka
Belarus, 220016, Minsk, K.Marks Str., 38
Fax + 375 17 226 06 10
E-mail: [email protected]

Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus
Ihar Shunevich
Belarus, 220030, Minsk, Gorodskoy Val Str., 4
Fax + 375-17-218-76-02
E-mail: [email protected]

Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs
Main Internal Affairs Directorate of Minsk Municipal Executive Committee
Belarus, Minsk, Nezavisimost Ave, 48Б
Fax +375-17 331-81-6
E-mail: [email protected]

Department of Citizenship and Migration
Pervomajski District Office of Internal Affairs of Minsk
Belarus, Minsk, Belinski Str., 10