International human rights organizations urge HRC to support extension of mandate of Special Rapporteur on Belarus
The 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council started on June 21 in Geneva and will last until July 9.
The session will touch upon the Belarusian issue: the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Anaïs Marin is to be delivered, an interactive dialogue will take place, a resolution on Belarus and the report of the Special Rapporteur will be adopted.
On the eve of the 47th session, 35 international and Belarusian human rights organizations sent a joint letter to representatives of participating countries to support the extension of the work of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus.
"As the human rights crisis in Belarus continues to deepen, with the persecution of dissidents becoming widespread, hundreds of political prisoners imprisoned and the Ministry of Interior continuing torture and other inhumane treatment, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights is becoming extremely important. That's why we hope that it will be extended at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council," said Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center.
At the opening of the session, UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said that the situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate, with severe restrictions on civic space, including the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association; raids against civil society and independent media; and the judicial persecution of human rights activists and journalists.
"We continue to receive numerous allegations of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment. Our examination of the situation in Belarus, pursuant to Resolution 46/20, is underway. I regret that, for its part, the Government has chosen to discontinue the presence of our Senior Human Rights Adviser in Minsk, a position which provided a significant point of engagement and a window for cooperation," said Michelle Bachelet.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus was created by the Human Rights Council in response to the wave of mass arrests and repressive measures undertaken by law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of the 2010 presidential election. The Special Rapporteur took office on November 1, 2012.
In 2018, Anaïs Maren was elected Special Rapporteur. Miklas Haraszti previously held the post for three two-year terms.
Official Minsk does not recognize the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and has called on the UN Human Rights Council to cancel it, pointing to its "unfair and politicized nature." However, the UN HRC annually extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus.