Interaction with militia. Human rights defenders’ advice


This leaflet can help you get better prepared to interaction with militia. As practice shows, the best assets in communication with any officials of the government departments are attentiveness, a clear knowledge of your rights, and friendliness.


A militiaman comes up to you…

If it is the militiaman who initiates a conversation, he should introduce himself, show his ID, and state the reason for request. If he doesn’t do this, you are entitled to ask him for this information.

If the militiaman refuses to give any details about himself, remember that most of them wear a badge on their breasts, try and remember the badge number.

If the militia officer is being rude to you, remember that his actions are illegal, and you can complain them. Here, you can refer to the code of ethics for internal affairs officers (approved by order № 67 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 4 March 2013).

If the militia officer keeps behaving incorrectly, in no case should you confront him or offend him during detention. These actions may be interpreted as disobeying the lawful demands of a State official (article 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offences provides for a fine from 2 to 50 base figures or administrative detention) or as insulting a public officer during the performance of duties (article 23.5 of the Code of Administrative Offences provides for a fine from 20 to 50 base figures) or as violence against a militia officer (article 364 of the Criminal Code provides for imprisonment to 6 years).


Checking identity and personal belongings

If the militiaman asks you to show your identity documents, ask him for the grounds for it. Militia officers are empowered to check the citizens’ identity documents only on suspicion of a crime, administrative offence or when entering a secure facility (paragraph 2 of article 25 of the Internal Affairs Bodies Act).

If the militiaman suspects you of unlawful conduct, he is obliged to tell you what you are suspected of (paragraph 1, part 1, article 4.1. of the Procedural-Executive Code of Administrative Offences).

If you do not have your ID with you, the militiaman may detain for up to 3 hours.

If the militiaman asks you to show your belongings (your bag, your pockets), remember that militia officers are empowered to conduct personal searches and inspect belongings at the entrance of airports, railway stations, in metro facilities and in other places determined by legislative acts of the Republic of Belarus (sports facilities, dangerous sites, protected objects etc.) – paragraph 6, part 1, article 25 of the Internal Affairs Bodies Act. But in any other public place, they cannot conduct personal search without serious grounds.


Detention. 3 and 72 hours

*relates to situations when you are detained on suspicion of an administrative offence

You may be detained for up to 3 hours in case of committing an administrative offence or for identification. This period can be extended to 72 hours, if you are detained for an offence that provide for arrest and deportation or if you are under the influence of alcohol or a mental disorder, and therefore pose a threat.

The period of detention is calculated from the time of de facto apprehension, not from the moment you are taken to the militia station. After being taken to the militia station, insist on immediate recording of the detention in a logbook confirming the time of the actual arrest.

Detention can only be applied for:

  • interdiction of illicit activities;

  • drawing up a record on administrative offence if a record cannot be drawn up at the site of detection of an administrative offence, i.e. if the officer asks you to proceed to the militia office for drawing up a record, insist on drawing it up in place (it is only in case you have your ID with you);

  • personal identification;

  • ensuring your participation in the consideration of the case on administrative violation;

  • preventing you from concealing or destructing evidence;

  • enforcing administrative penalty in the form of administrative arrest or deportation.

A person can be detained for more than 3 hours, but not more than 72 hours in case he/she is:

  • accused of an administrative offence incurring a penalty of administrative detention or deportation;

  • in a public place under the influence of alcohol or drugs (for sobering up);

  • demonstrating symptoms of acute mental disturbance, and posing a clear danger for themselves and other citizens by their actions (for placing him/her to a healthcare organization).


Human rights in detention

*relates to situations when you are detained on suspicion of an administrative offence

Most importantly, under article 27 of the Constitution, you can refuse to give any explanations concerning yourself or your close relatives.

From the moment of detention (not the moment you are taken to the militia station!), you have the following rights:

In short:

  • to know what you are suspected or accused of;

  • to refuse to give any explanations, especially if you think your answers may be used against you;

  • to have a copy of the record of administrative offence;

  • to use the services of a defence counsel from the moment of detention;

  • militia officers are obliged to notify your close relatives and employer of your detention at your request;

  • to ask for a writing set and file a complaint to a militia officer on duty if you think your rights are violated (address your complaint to the supervising prosecutor or the head of the militia department);

  • to demand medical assistance and a medical examination, if necessary.

Your rights in detail:

  • to know what administrative offence you are being accused of;

  • to give explanations or to refuse to give any explanations;

  • to provide evidence;

  • to lodge challenges and to make petitions;

  • to use the services of a defence counsel from the beginning of the administrative process, and in case of detention – form the declaration of the detention;

  • to meet with your defence counsel in private and confidentially, to terminate the powers of your defence counsel, to waive your defence counsel, and to conduct the defence by yourself;

  • to use your native language пor the language you master, or to use the services of an interpreter;

  • to object to the actions of officials of the body in charge of the administrative process, and demand that your objections are recorded in the record of the administrative offence or in the record of the proceedings;

  • to acquaint yourself with the record of the administrative offence and the materials in the case of the administrative offence after preparation for it’s consideration and in other circumstances in your application, to take notes of it with the permission of the body in charge of the administrative process, and to copy the materials;

  • to participate in the hearing of a case concerning an administrative offence;

  • to file complaints against the actions of officials of the body in charge of the administrative process;

  • to be compensated for illegal activities of the body in charge of the administrative process.

A “one call” rule doesn’t apply to Belarus, so you can't demand a phone call. But if a policeman allows you to do this, that won't break any rules.


The rights of foreign citizens in detention

Detained aliens enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations as the citizens of Belarus. Moreover, foreign citizens should immediately be informed in a language they understand about the reasons for detention and their rights.

On the demand of a foreigner, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be informed about his detention within one day, and note to a diplomatic mission or a consular office of the State a foreigner is from.


Rights and duties of a militia officer in detention

*relates to situations when you are detained on suspicion of an administrative offence

In detention, militia officer is obliged to:

  • Inform you about the offence the detainee is accused of;

  • Clarify the detainee’s rights, including the right not to incriminate himself/herself or his/her close relatives, and the right to a public defender;

  • Ensure the participation of a public defender. A lawyer, as well as a close relative can act as a public defender on the detainee's request;

  • Inform the detainee’s close relatives or employee of his/her whereabouts within 3 hours from the moment of detention on the detainee's request;

  • Draw up a record of administrative detention if the detention took more than 3 hours.

In detention, militia officer is empowered to:

  • Carry out a personal search – only for detection of the means used in the commission of an offence, as well as items, documents and values relevant in the administrative process on the body or in the clothes of the detainee.

A search should be performed by a person of the same gender as the detainee with the participation of two witnesses of the same gender.

A search can be carried out without witnesses only when there are substantial grounds for believing that a detainee carries weapons or other items that could be used for causing harm to human life or health.

  • Distrain property – to ensure the payment of the possible fine.

A record of an inventory of the distrained property should be drawn up.

  • Seize property (means used in the; objects removed from circulation; property obtained as a result of the offence).

A record of an inventory of the seizured property should be drawn up.


Drafting and signing procedural documents

Make sure you read carefully any documents you are asked to sign.

When drawing up a record:

  • You have a right to record your evidence yourself, and we suggest that you do so or to thoroughly check how your speech is reflected by the militia officer;

  • Sign each page. Do not sign blank records, and if the relevant fields are left blank, put a dash there;

  • If you disagree with the record’s content, do not refuse to sign it – this will in no way affect the legal force of the document. You should rather document your position (how it happened) yourself, as well as your comments and complaints, and sign it;

  • Request a copy of the record if you were not given one. Check the copy against the original. If you find any inconsistencies, note it in the record and ask to make the relevant corrections.


Video recording of actions by internal affairs officers

In our opinion, you are entitled to photograph or record video data of the actions by the militia because under article 5 of the Internal Affairs Bodies Act, the work of militia is open to the public to the extent that it meets the requirements of Belarusian legislation on the protection of state secrets or other legally protected secret, and also because article 34 of the Constitution guarantees the right to obtain, store and disseminate information regarding the activities of State institutions.

If a militia officer doesn’t allow video recording, you may refer to the above mentioned articles of the Constitution.

Moreover, you may explain that in the case of the militia officer’s improper conduct, you are entitled to collect evidence in order to subsequently submit the video to a complaint of ill-treatment by militia officers.


*** This material is a brief summary of the leaflet prepared with the support of European Commission in Belarus for the project «Support to civil society in the initiatives aimed at more open and transparent work of law enforcement officials in the Republic of Belarus»






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