Kuznechyk v. Sweden

Communication № 1027/2020
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Removal of the applicants from the Swedish embassy in Belarus has been prevented pending the Committee's decision on the complaint
flag Sweden / Committee against Torture
Case type: torture and other ill-treatment

The applicants in the case are Belarusian nationals Vitali and Uladzislau Kuznechyk, father and son. The case concerns their removal from the Swedish embassy in Minsk, Belarus.

Circumstances of the case

Vitali and Uladzislau Kuznechyk participated in a peaceful protest against the falsification of the results of the presidential elections  in Belarus. At the protest Vitali was beaten presumably by policemen. Uladzislau, along with other protesters, stood up for his father and took him away from the presumed policemen. These events were captured on video (from the 37th second Vitali Kuznechyk can be seen being beaten).

After this incident, criminal charges against the applicants were brought on the allegation of violence against the police officers. Fearing torture, on 11 September 2020 Vitali and Uladzislau Kuznechyk infiltrated the Swedish embassy in Minsk, where they have been staying ever since.

Complaint to the Committee against Torture

In the complaint we argued that if the applicants would be detained by the Belarusian authorities, they would face a real risk of torture. If they would be apprehended as the result of the Swedish authorities’ action or omission, Sweden would be in violation of its obligations under Article 3 of the Convention against Torture.

Committee's decision on interim measures

On 1 October 2020, the Committee indicated to the Government of Sweden an interim measure requesting it "to take necessary measures to safeguard the complainants' personal integrity while their complaint is under consideration by the Committee". Essentially, the Committee asked the Government not to transfer the applicants to the Belarusian authorities.

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From the very beginning of the procedure before the Committee against Torture the Swedish authorities tired to stop the examination of the complain, insisting that it was inadmissible due to the fact that the complainants were not under the jurisdiction of Sweden.

On 1 December 2021, the Committee against Torture decided that the complaint was admissible.

The Committee decided that the father and son were under Swedish jurisdiction and their complaint should be examined on the merits. The Committee also asked the government to state its position on the risk of torture for the complainants in Belarus.

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