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Prominent human rights defender Elena Tonkacheva to be expelled from Belarus

This article was originally published on baj.by on 5 November 2014.

Belarusian law-enforcement bodies took a decision to deport human rights defender Elena Tonkacheva without the right to return to Belarus for three years. She is to leave Belarus within a month.

Elena Tonkacheva, a famous human rights defender and head of the Centre for Legal Transformation Lawtrend, was informed on October 30 that her residence permit in Belarus was annulled. The formal reason was for having several fines for exceeding the speed limit; the offense was registered with a photo radar.

Elena Tonkacheva, a citizen of Russia, has lived in Belarus for 30 years. She graduated from the Belarusian University's faculty of law, was married here, and has a daughter of Belarusian citizenship. Tonkacheva has work and property here in Belarus. All of these arguments were provided for the consideration of the citizenship and immigration officers. She also underlined that the cameras registered the car number, and not the driver, so the photos cannot be regarded as sufficient to prove her guilt.

The decision on her deportation was considered on 5 October 2014. More than 7,000 people sent appeals to the relevant bodies asking not to expel Tonkacheva from Belarus. Fifty people came to the building of the Pershamaiski district police department to support the activist.

"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," says a statement by the Human Rights House Network.

Elena Tonkacheva is the Chairperson of the Board of the Legal Transformation Center, which deals with freedom of association, freedom of information, and human rights education.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Human rights defender expelled from Belarus

    "The punishment is absurdly out of whack with the alleged offense. Tonkacheva has long been an outspoken human rights advocate in Belarus, and the Belarusian government’s decision suggests her expulsion is based on her professional work. The Belarusian government should reconsider its ruling and permit Tonkacheva to remain in the country she considers home, legally and free of harassment and intimidation."

Additional resources
  • Human rights defender Elena Tonkacheva to be expelled from Belarus for three years

    Human Rights House Network



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