20 January 2018, Saturday, 6:19

Report by British and Belarusian human rights defenders detained on border


The anti-smuggling department examines the report.

The joint report by British and Belarusian human rights activists Half an Hour to Spring: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Belarus, which was published in the UK and sent to Belarus by mail, was detained by customs officers at Minsk-2 airport, the press service of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC) reports.

The BHC now has a preliminary certificate of inspection of non-commercial cargo. According to the document, there are no complaints about the cargo, but it was sent to the anti-smuggling department. Customs officers do not say why they carry out the examination, but they extended the examination period until August 31.

The first lot of books arrived in Belarus in July and passed the customs examination without problems.

BHC chairman Aleh Hulak said:

“As we don't know what exactly the experts are examining, we sent a request to the customs office. Our experience gives us grounds to fear that too vigilant officials can create problems out of nothing. It's a common situation that a zealous undereducated official begins an examination, and the rest people don't know how to solve it. Our research is primarily intended for specialists and decision-makers. We sent the book to all ministries and agencies concerned, including the President's Administration, the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor General's Office, the KGB... We know that people work with the report. We know the report is useful.”

The report Half an Hour to Spring: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Belarus was prepared by the Equal Rights Trust (ERT) and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. It is the first ever comprehensive account of discrimination and inequalities on all grounds and in all areas of life in Belarus. It is based on extensive field research and rigorous analysis of legislation and policies, and makes a set of recommendations to the Belarusian authorities on the necessary reforms to law, policy and practice on equality and non-discrimination.