International NGOs urge support for Belarus UN mandate renewal

Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) is among five international human rights organisations urging member and observer states of the UN Human Rights Council to support renewal of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, echoing the call of Belarusian civil society.

HRHF joined Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Human Rights Watch, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in issuing the following joint call:

The 44th session of the Human Rights Council is considering the renewal of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus. We, the undersigned international human rights organisations, urge your Delegation to support this renewal while maintaining scrutiny on the human rights situation in Belarus. Belarusian civil society is calling for such attention by Member and Observer States of the Human Rights Council and we join them in this call.

The recent crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists and members of the political opposition over the last couple of months ahead of the Presidential election in August provides a clear justification for renewing the Special Procedures mandate. We provide some key updates on the human rights situation in our background note, below. In addition to supporting the renewal of the mandate, we also urge your Delegation to insist that Belarus:

  • Ends the human rights violations documented below, and ensures full respect and enjoyment of human rights in this critical electoral period and beyond;
  • Ensures there is no continuation of nor increase in human rights violations in the period around the upcoming Presidential election and to that end opens lines of communication with civil society;
  • Cooperates fully with UN human rights mechanisms, including inviting the Special Rapporteur to visit Belarus, and takes concrete steps toward implementing the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur and other UN mechanisms, including the Human Rights Committee;
  • Ends the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists, human rights defenders, political activists and any other government critics, including by stopping arbitrary arrests and politically motivated criminal prosecutions, and registering independent human rights organisations and other NGOs that apply for registration;
  • Commits to bringing Belarus laws in line with its international human rights law obligations, including on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and ending politically motivated prosecutions;
  • Introduces a moratorium on executions with a view to full abolition of the death

Positive signs from Belarus should be encouraged, including its willingness to follow-up reviews by Treaty Bodies with direct engagement with civil society on the implementation of Treaty Body recommendations. Belarus can also be encouraged to more systematically, effectively and meaningfully, engage with civil society, including in the development of a new national human rights action plan, which will likely be drafted after Belarus’ Universal Periodic Review, due to take place on 2 November 2020. However, the Human Rights Council should also be clear that dialogue alone is not sufficient, and that Belarus’ many systemic human rights challenges need to be addressed with unambiguous and systemic action.

Members of the UN Human Rights Council should fulfil their commitment to ensuring basic human rights standards and protections in Belarus by renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur until there is demonstrable evidence that Belarus is meeting its commitments, as highlighted above.

We thank you for your attention and would welcome opportunities to provide any further information about the human rights situation in Belarus.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration,

  • Amnesty International
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

The group of international NGOs also briefly outlined the situation in the country, providing key updates on Belarus. Read the full statement here.

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