News / 19.12.17

"Trade union case" continues: IC questions Danish unionists

Torquild Hansen, a member of the Danish 3F Trade Union, came to Minsk to attend the BKDP Congress, but was interrogated.

On December 1, Mr Hansen, a representative of the 3F Danish Trade Union, arrived in Minsk to take part in the regular congress of the Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions (known as the BKDP). In the evening of the same day, three men approached him in the hotel restaurant, introduced themselves as investigators, and suggested to follow them to the Investigating Committee (IC) for the City of Minsk for interrogation.

At the IC, an investigator explained to Mr Hansen that he has the status of a witness in the so-called. "Trade Union's case", and should be questioned.

After the interrogation that lasted for four hours, Torquild Hansen returned to the hotel' and after the BKDP congress, he freely left Belarus.

Now the 3F Trade Union is considering a possibility of lodging a complaint to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) against the actions of Belarusian officials.

Gennady Fedynich, the Chairman of the REP Trade Union: "This is an act of lawlessness on the part of the IC. It turns out that any activist of a foreign trade union, who cooperated with us or with others, may be summoned as a witness. Based on what? They had to explain to the man his rights and the fact that he should not go to the interrogation without a consul. The interests of Denmark in Belarus are represented by the German Embassy. He is a foreign citizen! The interrogation protocol was to be given to him in the language he understands, but it was drawn up in Russian. Mr Hansen had to sign it, relying only on interpreters, which is a gross violation. Even if investigators wanted to question him, and suppose they had some grounds for this, they should know that at the Congress in Minsk I personally saw Mr Hansen for the third time in my life. In all likelihood, such IC's actions are caused by the desire to find out some facts that would allow them to send our case to the court. But why don't they think that such actions may frighten off the tourists who want to visit Belarus?"

Leonid Sudalenko, a lawyer of the REP Trade Union: "The first question is on how did investigators know that Mr Hansen was in Belarus? Do they shadow all foreigners in Belarus? Secondly: a foreign citizen should not be questioned without the presence of a consul of embassy official. Thirdly: was an interpreter provided? Did Torquild Hansen understand all the investigator's questions? What kind of interpreter was invited by the IC? Fourthly: were the rights of the Danish citizen protected; that is, was he given an advocate? We need to study all the procedural aspects of the case, and then decide how to protest. The main conclusion: foreigners are being shadowed here. Authorities are inviting to have a 5-day visa-free travel, but the IC may detain them and interrogate."

Earlier, at an international conference in Silkeborg, the Danish 3F Trade Union upheld a solidarity rally with activists of the REP Trade Union persecuted in Bobruisk.

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