In a joint letter, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and ByPol initiative called on the INTERPOL General Secretariat to suspend consideration of NCB Belarus's requests for information and not accept notifications from Belarus.
Full text of the letter:
“In accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character. INTERPOL does not facilitate the search of persons persecuted on political grounds.
Nevertheless, we are aware of multiple facts that the law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Belarus use the INTERPOL mechanisms to carry out international search and obtain information regarding persons persecuted for participating in peaceful protests in Belarus since the presidential election on August 9, 2020.
All the requests are sent through the National Central Bureau (NCB) of INTERPOL in the Republic of Belarus. Its staff are employees of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and operate in accordance with the formal requirements of the superior officers of the MIA instead of the principles set forth in the Constitution of INTERPOL.
Belarusian NCB sends to INTERPOL inquiries to search or identify persons who are not prosecuted at all or are prosecuted for crimes the verification of which does not meet the INTERPOL requirements, including in the case of persecution on political grounds. In addition, the requests contain knowingly misleading information: fictitious numbers of criminal cases and inspection materials, fictional plots of criminal offenses, and inaccurate information that only formally meets the criteria for verification through INTERPOL channels. Belarusian INTERPOL NCB staff do not verify the information provided to them and in many cases are aware that the information they provide to ICPO is fictitious or inaccurate.
There are instances of politically motivated persecution of Belarusians in which INTERPOL tools were used.
ByPol, the association of Belarusian former law enforcement officers who resigned in the wake of the August 2020 elections and are gathering evidence of crimes and law violations committed by the Belarusian regime. On October 11, 2021 ByPol published an analysis of telephone records of officials' conversations containing information about interactions between Belarusian NCB and INTERPOL.
On January 18, 2021, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus, in its official Telegram channel, informed that it was filing documents required to declare Pavel Latushka, head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, on the international wanted list. It is also known that Volha Kavalkova, member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a presumptive winner in the August 2020 elections, were filed for the INTERPOL wanted list. According to ByPol the INTERPOL General Secretariat rejected these requests and issued to the Belarusian NCB a warning for putting political opponents on the wanted list. In case of repeated violations, Belarus’s membership in INTERPOL may be suspended.
However, on May 8, 2021, it was reported that Volha Vialichka, a Belarusian citizen, the founder of the children's hospice in Hrodna, was included in the INTERPOL wanted list. Previously, she had been subjected to administrative arrests and fines for participating in peaceful protests. In 2020, the Belarusian authorities denied the problem of the COVID-19 virus and refused to provide assistance to health care institutions. The children's hospice in Hrodno, ruled by Olga, provided immediate assistance to medical workers. Subsequently, Olga was prosecuted for her civic activism. In 2020 and 2021, two criminal cases were opened for alleged abuse of sponsorship. She learned about her inclusion in the INTERPOL wanted list when crossing the border with Ukraine.
On September 12, 2021, Makariy Malakhousky, a citizen of Belarus, was detained in Poland. He had been put on the international wanted list for allegedly deliberately hitting a police officer by car. At the same time, the allegedly injured police officer never sought medical care. When sending the search form, the NCB did not take into account the administrative penalty already imposed on Malakhousky for the actions committed. In addition, the violence and torture against Malakhousky himself have not been investigated. In Poland, because of the political grounds of the request for Malakhousky’s detention which was clarified to the Polish authorities, he was released.
We are also informed that the Belarusian NCB regularly sends dozens of requests for information about Belarusians available in the Interpol databases. The requested information concerns the citizen's whereabouts; their status in the host country; possession of real estate, vehicles, means of communication, subscriber numbers, and any incriminating evidence regarding their owners, such as criminal records on the territory of the INTERPOL countries; as well as the citizen’s personal data, photos, identity documents, etc. Belarusian authorities use this information to persecute political opponents.
These facts indicate that INTERPOL mechanisms are used to prosecute Belarusian citizens on political grounds.
According to Article 11 of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data, Data Processing In Interpol Information System should be authorized with due regard for the law applicable to the NCB, national entity or international entity and should respect the basic rights of the persons who are the subject of the cooperation, in accordance with Article 2 of the INTERPOL’s Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the said Article refers. The NCBs, national and international entities shall be responsible for ensuring lawfulness of the collection and entry of their data in the INTERPOL Information System. The NCBs, national and international entities shall also be responsible for ensuring the lawfulness of the consultation of the data entered in the INTERPOL Information System.
According to Article 12(2) of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data, the NCBs national entities and international entities shall be responsible for the quality of the data they record and transmit in the INTERPOL Information System.
According to Article 131(1) of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data, if a NCB or an international entity encounters difficulties when processing data in the INTERPOL Information System or does not fulfil its obligations under the present Rules, the General Secretariat shall be entitled to take the following corrective action: (c) suspension of the access rights granted to users of such a NCB or international entity.
According to Article 17(5) of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data, the General Secretariat shall be responsible for regularly evaluating the operation of the NCBs in the light of the present Rules. It shall take all necessary and appropriate corrective measures to terminate any non-compliant processing of data, under the conditions provided for in Article 131 of the present Rules. Any measures which may result in the long-term suspension of the processing rights of a NCB shall be submitted to the Executive Committee for prior approval.
In view of the foregoing, considering the violations National Central Bureau in the Republic of Belarus Article 3 Constitution of INTERPOL и principles of the Rules on the Processing of Data,
We ask the INTERPOL General Secretariat to suspend consideration of NCB Belarus's requests for information, and not accept notifications from Belarus.
We ask to organize a consultation meeting about the various legal and evidential hurdles with representatives of the Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and ByPol at our offices in Warsaw or Vilnius, or at the Interpol office in Lyon”.
Leader of democratic Belarus