Serbia: Stop the extradition of Andrey Gnyot to Belarus

Published: Jun 18, 2024 Reading time: 4 minutes
Serbia: Stop the extradition of Andrey Gnyot to Belarus
© Photo: Archive

On 31 May 2024, the Belgrade High Court ordered the extradition of Belarusian filmmaker and co-founder of the Free Association of Athletes SOS-BY, Andrey Gnyot, from Serbia to Belarus, where he faces serious risks of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. People in Need, its Belarusian member organisation Viasna and the undersigned organisations express their grave concern about this decision and urgently call on the Serbian authorities to halt Gnyot’s extradition to Belarus, which would violate Serbia’s human rights obligations.

Paris, Vilnius, 14 June 2024. On 31 May, the Belgrade High Court ruled that Andrey Gnyot, a Belarusian filmmaker, activist and co-founder of the Free Association of Athletes SOS-BY, an organisation founded in 2020 by Belarusian athletes to protest against the rigged presidential elections in the country and labeled as an "extremist formation" by the Belarusian authorities in 2022, could be extradited from Serbia to Belarus.

Andrey Gnyot was arrested upon his arrival in Belgrade, Serbia, in October 2023, based on an Interpol arrest warrant issued at the request of the Belarusian authorities, allegedly for tax evasion (Article 243(2) of the Belarusian Criminal Code). Gnyot and his lawyers argue that these charges are fabricated and politically motivated, and were introduced by the Belarusian authorities in retaliation for his activist activities. On 21 February 2024, the Secretariat of the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files notified Gnyot’s lawyers as a precautionary measure that access to his profile data has been provisionally blocked.

After spending about seven months in a Serbian detention facility, Gnyot was placed under house arrest on 6 June 2024. On 31 May 2024, the Belgrade High Court ruled in favor of his extradition to Belarus. Gnyot’s defense team has three days to appeal this decision​.

The extradition to Belarus poses significant threats to Andrey Gnyot’s life and health. In addition to grave and consistent violations of fair trial rights in Belarus, leading to politically motivated trials, almost no access to independent lawyers and disproportionate sentences, political prisoners face torture and ill-treatment in Belarusian detention facilities, which are notorious for their brutal conditions. As documented by numerous human rights organisations, as well as the OHCHR examination of the human rights situation in Belarus and the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Belarus, detainees imprisoned on politically motivated charges are subjected to systematic harassment and ill-treatment, including the unjustified, prolonged and repeated placement in punishment cells, including "punitive isolation cells" (SHIZO), where they face isolation and incommunicado detention. They are regularly denied access to medical care, lawyers, and family visits. In correctional colonies, inmates have also been subjected to forced labor.

In Belarus, Andrey Gnyot could face up to seven years of imprisonment for tax evasion. Additionally, the Belarusian authorities could potentially charge Gnyot with the creation of or participation in an "extremist formation", punishable with up to ten years of imprisonment under the Belarusian Criminal Code.

As a State party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), Serbia is obliged to adhere to principles prohibiting the extradition of individuals to countries where they face the torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment​ or punishment. In particular, under Article 3 of the ECHR, States may not extradite an individual to a country where "substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person in question, if removed, would face a real risk of being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 in the receiving country". This involves a "rigorous" assessment of whether the general situation in the destination country and the personal circumstances of the applicant might expose them to torture or other forms of ill-treatment.

As of 13 June 2024, 1,397 people in Belarus have been recognised as political prisoners by Viasna, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee the country due to political persecution. Currently, the extradition of almost every Belarusian national who fled the country as a result of the brutal crackdown of the Belarusian authorities following the peaceful protests against the falsified 2020 presidential elections puts them at an immediate risk of politically motivated persecution.

In light of the grave human rights violations in Belarus, many of which might amount to crimes against humanity, the undersigned organisations urgently call on the Serbian higher instance court to thoroughly assess the circumstances of Andrey Gnyot’s case and not to extradite him to Belarus, where he faces substantial risks of torture and other ill-treatment.

They also call on the international community to uphold their human rights obligations under the ICCPR, UNCAT and other international or regional human rights treaties, which prohibit the extradition of individuals if they face risks of torture or other ill-treatment in the destination country, including in Belarus.



 The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House

European Exchange


The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)

Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU)

Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)

Libereco Germany

Libereco Switzerland

Norwegian Helsinki Committee



Autor: Ondřej Lukáš, Media manager PIN

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