2008 23/12

Прымусовы збор адбіткаў пальцаўBelarusian high police officials say they will have to fingerprint each and every male citizen of Belarus unless the 4 July, 2008 explosion is solved by the investigation. Since www.odsgomel.org keeps receiving evidence of Homel residents being forced to take their fingerprints, the city human rights experts decided to comment on the lawfulness of the action.

What should one do after receiving an invitation to compulsory fingerprinting?

The procedure of fingerprint identification is defined by the Law ‘On State Fingerprint Analysis’ of 4 November, 2003, stressing the voluntary character of the examination.

Still, it does provide for compulsory fingerprinting for a limited number of citizens, including criminal suspects, military, emergency, customs and tax personnel. In case you do not belong to any of these groups our advice is that you immediately draw up a claim to head of the local police department.

We would also like to remind you that an improperly completed claim could be easily turned down. So one has to take care when drawing up a claim to the police.

Any telephone conversation with a similar request is illegal. And, therefore it cannot serve evidence in case it is required to determine the lawfulness of such action.

In case you have received a written summons, you have a right to react in a formal way.

In case the writ states your status as a witness, you have a right to avoid fingerprinting, since Article 27 of the Constitution says that ‘no person shall be compelled to be a witness against oneself’.

In any other case (even if you are named suspect or accused) the citizens has a right to be familiarized with the character and the amount of the charges, receive immediate legal assistance, and should not be compelled to give evidence to prove his or her innocence. (see Article 26 of the Constitution: ‘A defendant shall not be required to prove one’s innocence.’)

Thus, police should act under the existing legislation and the Constitution of Belarus, set and achieve legitimate tasks in the framework of the relevant legal provisions, refraining from abuse of authority and violation of the rights and freedoms of Belarusian citizens.

Ales Volny,


P.S. Sample of Claim…

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