The investigative reporting platform Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Danwatch, a Copenhagen-based independent media centre specialized in investigations of states’ and companies’ impact on human rights and the environment, have partnered to investigate the money trail from the EU to Eastern European authorities with poor human rights records.

A probe into hundreds of EU and International Organization for Migration (IOM) tenders and awarded contracts, including technical specifications for the bidders, show that the EU is funding video surveillance cameras, communication equipment, patrol vehicles and seismic sensors worth two million euros for the benefit of the Belarusian State Border Committee.

In a collaboration with Belarusian journalists, OCCRP and Danwatch have documented accusations of human rights violations on behalf of the State Border Committee. The Belarusian government is known for its crackdown on opposition and civil society, as well as violations of the rights of Chechen refugees and harsh treatment of migrants and refugees passing through Belarus in an effort to reach the EU.

Key findings:

  • Despite the EU’s condemnations and embargoes to limit the human rights abuses and internal repression in what is popularly known as “Europe’s last dictatorship”, the EU is funding surveillance equipment for Belarusian authorities who are instrumental in the crackdown on political opposition and regime critics.
  • Due to the human rights situation in Belarus, the EU has embargoed the export and funding of equipment that may be used for internal repression. The EU is at risk of violating its own embargo through the funding of infrared video surveillance cameras, experts say.

Published stories