On 20 April 2011, Ukrainian human rights defender Ms Marina Tsapok was denied entry into Belarus. Marina Tsapok is a member of the International Observation Mission of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus - a coalition of over 40 NGOs from across the OSCE region, and head of Kiev Information Centre of the same committee. She is also a coordinator of the FLARE (Freedom, Legality and Rights in Europe) network in Kiev, an activist with the independent Ukrainian youth organisation Foundation of Regional Initiatives, and a participant of the international Youth Human Rights Movement.
On 20 April, at approximately 4 am, Marina Tsapok was stopped at the “Teryukha” frontier post of the Ukrainian-Belarus border and taken off the train as she was on her way to Minsk. Reportedly, the border police informed her that she was being denied entry into Belarus. However, no reasons were given and no written document was provided to Marina Tsapok for this denial. She was expelled back to Kiev on the 7 am train and is currently in Ukraine.
Marina Tsapok has previously worked in Minsk as information assistant with the International Observation Mission, which is a solidarity initiative launched by human rights defenders from the OSCE region in reaction to the severe repression of Belarusian civil society after the civil unrest of 19 December 2010. The Mission aims to monitor the observance of fundamental human rights in Belarus, as well as the protection of human rights defenders.
Previously, other members of the International Observation Mission have been denied entry to Belarus. On 9 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Maxim Kytsyuk, a Ukrainian citizen and supporter for the information work of the Mission, was denied entry, and on 16 March 2011, Mr Andrey Yurov, head of the Mission, was expelled from Minsk and denied entry to Belarus until 2013 - see Front Line urgent appeal dated 17 March 2011.
While States may legitimately deny entry into their territory to foreign nationals, Front Line believes that the denial of entry into Belarus of Marina Tsapok and other members of the Observation Mission of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus is directly related to their peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights.
Front Line urges the authorities in Belarus to:
1. Withdraw the denials of entry imposed on human rights defender Marina Tsapok and other members of the Observation Mission of the Committee on International Control over the
Situation with Human Rights in Belarus as it is believed that these denials are solely related to their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Belarus are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
Please see the Front Line web "Act Now" page for info and addresses for action to be taken http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/act
URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY
BLR 005 / 0411 / OBS 067
Obstacles to freedom of movement
April 20, 2011
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your intervention in the following situation in Belarus.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the denial of Ms. Marina Tsapok, a Ukrainian citizen member of the International Observation Mission in Minsk and coordinator of the work of the Kyiv Informational Center of the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus, to enter the territory of Belarus.
According to the information received, on April 20, 2011 around 4 a.m., Ms. Marina Tsapok was stopped at the “Teryukha” frontier post of the Ukrainian-Belarus border and taken off the train, as she was on her way to Minsk. The border police officer explained to her that she was denied entry to Belarus, but he did not specify the reasons of that denial, and no written document was handed to Ms. Tsapok. She was expelled back to Kiev with the 7 a.m. morning train.
The Observatory recalls that Ukrainian citizens do not need a visa to enter Belarus.
The Observatory therefore fears that such obstacles to freedom of movement – already posed in March 2011 against Mr. Maxim Kitsyuk, a Ukrainian citizen, representative of the International Observation Mission, and to Mr. Andrey Yurov, a Russian citizen, Head of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus – merely seem to aim at sanctioning human rights activities carried out in the framework of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus.
The Observatory calls on Belarus to conform to Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Belarus is a party since November 12, 1973 and establishes that “An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to the Covenant may be expelled therefrom only in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with law [...]”, as well as to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.
The Observatory urges the authorities of Belarus to:
i. Put an end to the obstacles to freedom of movement of Ms. Marina Tsapok, as they seem to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against the above-mentioned human rights defenders, and more generally against all human rights defenders in the country or entering the country, and ensure that they are able to carry out their work freely without any hindrances in all circumstances;
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the ICCPR and in particular its Article 13 which states that “An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to the present Covenant may be expelled there from only in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with law and shall, except where compelling reasons of national security otherwise require, be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority.”
v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
- its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- its Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
vi. Comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and uphold in all circumstances the principles and provisions enshrined in the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus and which, in particular, guarantee freedoms of association, demonstration, expression and opinion, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
vii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.
·President Alexander Lukashenko, ul .Karla Marksa, 38, 220016 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or + 375 172 22 38 72, Email: email@example.com
·Administration of the President of Belarus
·Head of the Administration of the President of Belarus, Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Makei, Ul. K. Marksa 34, 220016 Minsk, Fax: + 375 17 226-06-10
·General Prosecutor, Grigory Alekseevich Vasilevich, Internatsionalnaya str. 22, 220050 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52
·Minister of Justice of Belarus, Mr. Viktor Grigorevich Golovanov, Ul. Kollektornaya, 10, 220004 Minsk, Belarus, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
·President of the Supreme Court of Belarus, Mr. Valentin Olegovich Sukalo, Ul. Lenina, 28, 220030 Minsk, Belarus, Email: email@example.com
·Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 avenue de la paix, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
·Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, 192 avenue Molière, 100 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2.340.02.87, Email : email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Belarus in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, April 20, 2011
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29