HRC47: UN Human Rights Council extends mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus

On 13 July 2021, the UN Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, following calls by Belarusian and international human rights organisations. Human Rights House Foundation welcomes this action, which provides for on-going scrutiny of Belarus’s human rights situation and an accessible and safe channel for Belarusian civil society to deliver diverse and up-to-date information from within the country.

In approving an extension of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, the Human Rights Council reiterated its commitment to the Belarusian people and human rights defenders.

Dave Elseroad, Head of Advocacy, Human Rights House Foundation.

In her July 2021 report to the Council, the Special Rapporteur noted the “unprecedented deterioration due to increased [human rights] violations since late spring 2020”. The report went on to highlight massive police violence against those protesting the outcome of the flawed August 2020 president election, cases of enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and ill-treatmeant, and intimidation of civil society actors. Following a question from HRHF during an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, the mandate holder also highlighted the taking of children of human rights defenders’ as a reprisal strategy employed by the Belarusian authorities. 

Belarusian and international human rights organisations look forward to the mandate holder’s continued reporting as a critical tool for exposing the actions of the Belarusian authorities.

Dave Elseroad, Head of Advocacy, Human Rights House Foundation.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur is critically important. It focuses on on-going monitoring and regular reporting on the situation of human rights in Belarus. It offers support and advice to Belarusian civil society. This is particularly important as no domestic remedies exist for human rights violations in the country. Likewise, Belarus is not a member of any regional human rights bodies to which civil society or individuals might appeal for relief. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate is also complementary to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ examination of Belarusian human rights violations mandated during the 46th session. That OHCHR examination is narrowly focused on reporting on human rights violations surrounding the August 2020 presidential elections with an eye towards accountability. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate is complementary, distinctive, and broader.

Human Rights House Foundation and its partner, the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, were among the first civil society organisations to call for the creation of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate in 2012.

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