The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.
The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Center “Viasna” about the indictment and ongoing arbitrary detention of Leanid Sudalenka, lawyer of the Homieĺ (Gomel) branch of Viasna, and the arbitrary detention of Tatsiana Lasitsa, Viasna’s volunteer.
On February 1, 2021, Leanid Sudalenka was charged under Parts 1 and 2 of Article 342 of the Belarus Criminal Code (“organization and preparation of actions grossly violating public order and financing such activities”). If convicted, he could face up to three years of imprisonment. Mr. Sudalenka remains detained in pre-trial detention center No. 3 in Homieĺ.
Moreover, on January 21, 2021, Tatsiana Lasitsa, who works with Mr. Sudalenka, was detained at the Minsk airport while attempting to travel from Belarus to Lithuania by officers of the Interior Ministry. She is considered as a suspect in the same criminal case. She was also taken into custody in Homieĺ pre-trial detention center No. 3, where she remains detained.
The Observatory recalls that on January 18, 2021, the Investigative Committee of Belarus detained Leanid Sudalenka and interrogated him as part of a criminal case, without granting him access to his lawyer for several hours. Later in the evening, Maria Tarasenka, another Viasna volunteer and Mr. Sudalenka’s assistant, was also detained in Homieĺ. Law enforcement officials searched her apartment, and she was placed in a preliminary detention center. She was released without charges on January 21, 2021.
The Observatory further recalls that Leanid Sudalenka was interrogated and his office was searched on January 5, 2021, by officers of the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in connection with another criminal case opened earlier in December 2020 against a Homieĺ opposition activist, Uladzimir Nepomniashchykh, in which Leanid Sudalenka is figuring as a witness.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa which seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.