UN Committee on Human Rights: Post of Special Reporter on Human Rights in Belarus to Be Introduced?
During the preparation to the regular sitting of the UN Committee on Human Rights representatives of several countries proposed to introduce the post of special reporter on human rights in Belarus. If so, Belarus will be regarded as such severe human rights violators as Burma, Congo Sierra-Leone, Cuba and Sudan.
The issue of human rights violations in Belarus stands in the schedule of the session. In its resolution of 17 April 2003 “State of human rights in Belarus” the Committee stated its intention to return to the question of Belarus.
During the preparation to the session there are held so-called Parallel Meetings, at which representatives of different countries familiarize public with their positions. On 6 April, during two such meetings certain countries expressed their intention to insist on strict reaction of the Committee concerning the violations of human rights in Belarus.
At the Parallel Meeting, arranged by the US representative, it was pointed out that the regime of President Lukashenka didn’t differ from the situation in Sudan and the situation with human rights was disastrous.
This point of view was developed at the cooperative Parallel Meeting of representatives of the US and other countries-members of the Commission. According to the representative of human rights organizations of Georgia Givi Mikanadze, this working sitting turned into a real fight because of the violent debates and harsh speeches of the participants.
The draft resolution on Belarus exercises sharp criticism – President Lukashenka is openly criticized, the situation with kidnaps of people, persecution of NGOs, absence of the liberty of speech, freedom of conscience and fair election are emphasized. The liquidation of Yakub Kolas National Humanities Lyceum gets a separate condemnation.
However, the most interesting in the draft resolution is the proposal of the US to establish a new position – Special reporter on human rights in Belarus. If this proposal is supported by the majority of the committee members, Belarus will have a special reporter, as it happens with Burma, Congo, Sierra-Leone, Cuba and Sudan.
The representative of the Republic of Belarus stated that the draft resolution carries out the policy of double standards and the US and the EU want to interfere into internal affairs of Belarus under the mask of human rights and violate its sovereignty. To prove that human rights are observed in Belarus, he mentioned the fact the country’s government invited a special working group of the UN on the issue of pre-trial imprisonment that is to visit Belarus for inspection. The position of Belarus was supported by Russia and China.
Representatives of Armenia and Japan agreed with the general content of the draft resolution but pointed out that appointment of Special reporter was an extreme measure which they considered inadequate to the situation in Belarus. These countries stated they wouldn’t support this step. The position of the Ukraine remains unclear because the representative of this country simply ran out of the sitting hall when the debate was in its culmination. Poland abstained from expressing its position as well.
Representatives of Switzerland, Canada, Ireland and Holland categorically supported the US proposal.
As a result of discussion it became clear that the majority of the countries-members of the Committee support the US proposal about taking the hardest measures towards Belarusian government. All countries of South America, all EU countries-members of the Committee (8 votes), several African states, the USA, Canada, Australia, Hungary and Croatia voted for it.
It’s worth mentioning that the question of Belarus also arises at other preliminary sittings – many countries mention it in their speeches.
So, the consideration of the situation with human rights in Belarus that will soon start at the Committee on Human Rights can have the hardest consequences for Belarus. The UN is likely to condemn human rights violations in Belarus.
Yury Chavusaw, Human Rights Center “Viasna”