Minsk court turns down HR defenders’ complaints against foreign travel ban
Minsk Tsentralny District Court has dismissed the complaints lodged by human rights defenders Valiantsin Stefanovich and Andrei Bandarenka against foreign travel restrictions imposed on them for alleged draft evasion.
Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, and Andrei Bandarenka, leader of the “Platforma” human rights group, argued that the Ministry of Defense and the Interior Ministry had illegally enrolled them on the list of persons restricted in their right to leave the country.
During the court session, Aliaksei Biahun, head of the Interior Ministry’s immigration and citizenship department, presented official papers confirming the removal of Stefanovich and Bandarenka from the black list. He also said employees of the Interior Ministry did not enforce the travel restrictions, referring to a computer failure in the Ministry’s data base. However, the high police official refused to specify who was to blame for the error.
Leanid Valcheuski, representative of the Defense Ministry, also denied any involvement of his office in ruling to ban the human rights defenders’ foreign travels.
Judge Alena Siamak dismissed all the motions entered by the plaintiffs, including one calling for an expert examination to establish the reason for the reported computer failure. She also refused to meet Valiantsin Stefanovich’s demand to impeach the judge who had failed to consider his appeal for five months.