Centre news

In an interview to ARD, Dr Grażyna Baranowska comments on a landmark trail of a former member of a Belarusian paramilitary

Baranowska, an expert on enforced disappearances, explained that the trail conducted in Switzerland is groundbreaking.

On 19.9 Grażyna Baranowska, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hertie School’s Centre for Fundamental Rights and a member of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, gave an interview to the German television station ARD on a landmark trail, which started on the same day in Switzerland.

In this process, a former member of a Belarusian paramilitary unit is accused of forcibly disappearing three opposition leaders in 1999. The fate of those persons remains unknown until today.  

This is a groundbreaking trial, explained Baranowska. It is the first time that a Belarusian citizen has ever been put on trial for committing enforced disappearances, and it is the first use of the specific provision of the criminalising this offense in Switzerland. This matters not only to victims of the Belarusian regime, but to victims worldwide, as it shows that perpetrators may be found and tried many years after they committed crimes. The trial was brought according to universal jurisdiction under the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which enshrines States’ obligation to prosecute such crimes.