HRC44 – Item 4 – Belarus
HRHF oral statement
Background document: UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus report (A/HRC/44/55)
Check against delivery.
Thank you, Chair.
We are gravely concerned about the widespread arrests and detentions occurring in Belarus as we speak, including of opposition leaders, journalists, human rights defenders and others. We are not aware of any safeguards put in place by Belarus to ensure the protection of human rights around the Presidential election in August, despite multiple warnings to do so over the past year.
Belarusian human rights defenders report of “incessant repression against citizens, including direct participants in the electoral process, which contributes to an atmosphere of fear”.
Viasna has now identified at least 25 people that it considers political prisoners, which is comparable to the human rights crisis in 2010/11. More than 600 people have been detained since the beginning of the electoral period, and more than 100 arrested due to participation in peaceful mass events. Yet this situation threatens to deteriorate further.
We ask the Rapporteur to provide more detail on those who are being arrested and detained: do they have access to lawyers? Are they being fairly represented?
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur remains essential for ensuring that the Council stays abreast of the deteriorating human rights situation.
We, therefore, recommend that the Human Rights Council:
- Renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, particularly in light of the current widespread crackdown;
- Insist that Belarus takes immediate remedial action to address current human rights violations and concrete steps to ensure no further escalation around next month’s election.