Customs officers find no extremism, return laptop to human rights defender
Leanarda Loktseva, deputy chief of the Ašmiany Customs, has offered human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka to come and pick up his laptop and other printed materials that were seized by customs officials on May 25, when the activist, his vehicle and luggage were searched at the border crossing Kamienny Loh.
After the incident, the human rights activist wrote to the Chairman of the State Customs Committee to complain about the seizure of his laptop and printed materials. On his arrival in his home city of Homieĺ, he filed a complaint in the Court of Ašmiany district. However, the complaint was dismissed on August 7.
Leanid Sudalenka, in turn, appealed the decision to the Hrodna Regional Court, which eventually confirmed the ruling of the District Court.
“I still believe that the actions of customs officials were illegal and unlawful, as they limit my freedom of receiving, storing and disseminating information. They have not explained for the sake of which purpose my rights were restricted. A reference to national legislation, which was mentioned in the customs search report, in particular the Customs Code, is contrary to my rights enshrined in Articles 23 and 34 of the Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Sudalenka.
As a result, the Ašmiany Customs has written to the human rights activist saying that it completed its probe and invited him to pick up the seized property.
In 2010, the Ašmiany Customs violated Leanid Sudalenka’s right to freedom of receipt, storage and dissemination of information, as found by a decision of the UN Human Rights Committee No. 2114/2011 (Sudalenka v. Belarus), which concerned the confiscation of printed materials on the eve of the presidential election in 2010. In this case, international experts found a violation of the author’s rights to freedom of receipt and dissemination of information and obliged Belarus to prevent similar violations in the future.