Committee against Torture comes to defence of Belarusians hiding in Sweden’s embassy

Sweden will not turn over two Belarusian citizens who are currently staying in the territory of its embassy in Minsk.

On September 11, the men jumped over the fence of the Swedish embassy and asked for political asylum there, claiming they were being persecuted by the Belarusian siloviki.

The UN Committee against Torture appealed to Sweden, asking its authorities to ensure the inviolability of 47-year-old Vitaly Kuznechyk and his son Uladzislau (29). It follows from the letter sent by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to their lawyer Vadzim Drazdou.

“The fact that the committee’s wording contains a ban on handing over my clients to the Belarusian authorities is very important. No one and nothing else is now a threat to their personal security. In fact, the committee agreed that they managed to prove in advance they were running the risk of being put to torture and/or facing other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment,” the lawyer told tut.by.

Protest month in photos

Sweden shall comply with the committee’s ruling, but it is up to its authorities to decide whether refugee status will be granted to the Kuznechyks.

In early September, Vital and Uladzislau Kuznechyk took part in anti-government protests in the Belarusian city of Vitsebsk. To avoid arrest, they headed to Minsk and asked Swedish diplomats for help. According to the men, the embassy staff provided them with everything they needed.

An administrative case was initiated against the Vitsebsk residents for participating in unauthorised rallies; the investigators are also checking whether they were involved in the attack on police officers, Volha Shkuratava, an official representative of Vitsebsk Regional Directorate of Interior, said in mid September.

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