Haraszti: Belarus returned this year to mass oppression of those who protested against its policies

On 26 October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Miklós Haraszti presented his report on the human rights situation in the country at the 72th session of the UN General Assembly in New York (USA).

In his speech, Mr. Haraszti once again reminded about the mass arrests that took place during the March events, and that were very similar to those that occurred in 2011, after which the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus was established by the Human Rights Council.

“The Government of Belarus returned this year to mass oppression of those who protested against its policies. In my report last year, I warned how dangerous the lack of any changes in the system of governance in Belarus was. Despite some facade changes in the methods that the authorities use, it still retains the same laws in action. The reasons for the cyclical character of violent crackdowns lie in a governing system which is singlehandedly directed by the president, incumbent for a quarter of a century.

My report to you has an aim to explain how the President built up a state structure for the purpose of protecting and consolidating his power. Even the symbolic progress in the human rights sphere serves this purpose,” — Mr. Haraszti noted.

He noted minor improvements for the year – registration of the “Tell the truth” organisation and the submission of the report on the human rights situation by Belarus to the Human Rights Committee, which had been expected since 2001. Thus, according to the special rapporteur, the delay of 16 years indicates how the country fulfills its international treaty obligations.

Miklós Haraszti also recalled that Belarus is still the only country in almost the entire northern hemisphere of the Earth, except for the United States, where the death penalty remains.

“Given the limitations in the field of human rights, this fact is another additional element of fear on the part of citizens, as they may be in court behind closed doors where they can be sentenced to death, and no human rights are guaranteed: neither to a convict, nor to their family,” — he said.

Miklós Haraszti noted that the groundless arrests of political opponents of the authorities, the fabricated case against the “White Legion” is the repetition of the practice that began five years ago, and another characteristic of the cyclical nature of the human rights situation in Belarus.

Mr. Haraszti again called on the Belarusian authorities to cooperate with his mandate and stressed that he was ready in any form to help the government move to preserving the obligations that the country has undertaken in the field of human rights.

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