Belarus: Joint statement: Risk of expulsion of human rights activist Yelena Tonkacheva from Belarus is legal lynching reminiscent of soviet times
November 3, 2014
On October 30, 2014, our organisations were informed that the
Pershamaiski District Department of Internal Affairs in Minsk decided to cancel
the Belarusian residence permit of a prominent human rights activist, Head of
the Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”, Ms. Yelena Tonkacheva, and to
consider the question of her expulsion from the country.
The procedure of deprivation of residence against Russian Federation citizen
Yelena Tonkacheva, who has permanently resided in Belarus since 1985, was
launched in September this year. The decision formally relies on four cases of
insignificant excess of speed limitations by Ms. Yelena Tonkacheva while
driving her car, which were registered by video cameras of the traffic
The Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”, headed by Ms. Yelena
Tonkacheva, is one of the leading human rights organisations in Belarus and has
carried out legitimate human rights activities in the interests of the
Belarusian society for many years already. Ms. Yelena Tonkacheva 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 national and
We, representatives of Belarusian and international human rights organisations,
consider that the actions of the Belarusian authorities aimed at the
cancellation of the residence permit and subsequent expulsion of one of the
country's leading human rights activists are politically motivated, and
constitute an attempt to forcibly put an end to Ms. Yelena Tonkacheva's
legitimate human rights activities or to create significant obstacles in the
conduct of such activities.
The pretext outlined by the Belarusian authorities to deprive Ms. Tonkacheva of
her residence permit in the country once again emphasises the true motivation
of the authorities, and is discriminatory since such measures are not used in
respect to other foreign nationals under the same or similar circumstances.
Accordingly, we call upon the Belarusian authorities to:
- Cancel the decisions issued by state bodies to deprive Ms. Yelena Tonkacheva
of her residence permit, and exposing her to possible expulsion;
- Stop creating obstacles to human rights activities on the territory of the
Republic of Belarus, and abide by the provisions of the United Nations
Declaration "On the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and
Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedoms".
- the 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
- the public association "Belarusian Association of Journalists"