Judge dismisses human rights defender Pahanyayla’s complaint about foreign travel ban
A district judge in Minsk on June 22 dismissed a complaint filed by prominent human rights defender Hary Pahanyayla against the interior and justice ministries over a foreign travel ban.
After a number of opposition politicians and civil society activists were turned back at the border in early March, Mr. Pahanyayla, a legal expert with the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, visited a district citizenship and migration office in Minsk where he was told that he was also on the list of individuals temporarily banned from leaving the country. The man was given a document reading that he had been included in the list at the request of the justice ministry in connection with a debt collection lawsuit against him.
When Mr. Pahanyayla asked the justice ministry to provide explanations, the ministry said that no court proceedings had been initiated against him, and that he might have been placed on the travel ban list by mistake due to a “technical error.”
Speaking at a court session on Tuesday, a representative of the justice ministry confirmed that the ministry had not applied for the inclusion of Mr. Pahanyayla in the list.
On Friday, a representative of the interior ministry brought a paper saying that Mr. Pahanyayla had already been removed from the travel ban list.
Nonetheless, Judge Volha Hlushakova of the Maskowski District Court turned down the complaint of Mr. Pahanyayla, who demanded punishing those responsible, and thus found nothing wrong with the travel ban, Belarusian Helsinki Committee Chairman Aleh Hulak told BelaPAN.
“Placing people illegally on a travel ban list is tantamount to a criminal offense,” Mr. Pahanyayla said in his court speech on Tuesday. “The authorities thus violate the person’s right to freedom, which is guaranteed by the constitution. I would like to remind you that former prosecutorial investigator Svyatlana Baykova was convicted exactly for violating citizens’ constitutional right to freedom. According to the prosecution, she arbitrarily charged some people with criminal offenses and placed them in custody, violating their right to freedom, and illegally dropped criminal charges against others.”