State Border Committee Chairman: “Attempts to politicize searches are means of exerting pressure on officials”
Siarhei Maltsau, Chairman of the State Border Committee, has published a post on the department’s official website in response to the complaints of citizens in the framework of a campaign “Stop the outrage on the border: Support human rights defenders”. The campaigners signed an online petition asking the high officials of the State Border Committee and the State Customs Committee to put an end to arbitrary body searches carried out at the border in respect of human rights activists Leanid Sudalenka and Vasil Paliakou. As a result of the numerous searches, the officials took laptops and a variety of storage media. The human rights defenders themselves were removed from the train and encountered other inconveniences while returning home.
On November 10, Siarhei Maltsau wrote about the rules of law that govern the work of border guards. However, he described the defenders’ actions as follows: “Attempts to politicize the searches carried out within the border or customs control, to link their conduct to specific professional or social activities of individual categories of citizens is to a greater extent a form of exerting pressure on officials at the checkpoints and a desire to assign a fictitious right of immunity for no legal basis.”
The Committee’s chairman assures that the legislation does not limit the frequency of inspections. The searches involve some inconvenience, but they are used at all borders across the world. “Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians and foreign citizens are searched at the border crossings, and they perceive it as a standard part of the process of crossing the border,” wrote the official. Siarhei Maltsau noted that the information about the personal life of citizens affecting their honor, dignity or business reputation or data that can cause damage to their legitimate interests may not be transferred to anyone else without the consent of the citizens.