International Helsinki Federation Reports Deterioration of Human Rights Situation in Belarus
Belarus’ poor human rights situation continued to deteriorate further in the course of 2005. The country’s record fell short with respect to democracy, the rule of law, and a number of basic rights, including freedom of expression, association and media, and the right for peaceful assembly,’ reads the report Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America, Report 2006 (Events of 2005), published in Russian on 11 September by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.
According to the experts of the Federation, fair trial standards were repeatedly violated by courts and no progress was made to investigate disappearances’ of the past’.
The report underlines that increasingly restrictive regulations concerning civil society have brought mane NGOs to the brink of annihilation, while amendments introduced to the criminal code in the late 2005 added to their problems by allowing arbitrary charges for legitimate criticism of authorities’. Charges against them looked doubtful or fabricated,’ the report notes.
International experts state that Belarusian authorities have ignores all UN and other international criticism of its deplorable human rights practices and rejected most cooperation with intergovernmental organizations aimed at improving the situation in Belarus’. Besides, the government also ignored tow resolutions of the UN Commission on Human Rights and cooperation with special rapporteur on situation of human rights in Belarus, Adrian Severin.
The experts of the IHF believe that apart from wide-scale violations of civil and political rights, Belarus continued to suffer economic deprivation from the long-term effects of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe’. As said in the report, more than 1.6 million people were still living in contaminated areas, including almost 420,000 children. During 2005 the population of Belarus decreased by 49,900 persons (0.5%) and, as of January 1 2006 constituted 9,759,200 inhabitants. The main reasons for the decrease were the fact that the death rate exceeded over the birth rate, as well as migration.