UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Belarus Reports on the Belarusian Situation
In the evening of 27 September Adrian Severin, UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus presented a report on the Belarusian situation to the UN Human Rights Council. He pointed out that “during the last two years the human rights situation in Belarus has been relentlessly deteriorating”, RFE/RL reports.
In fact, the speech of the famous diplomat (he was Foreign Affairs Minister of Romania and President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly) continued his previous report on Belarus, which had been presented by Mr. Severin during the first session of the Council. In the opinion of the Special Rapporteur, the events in Belarus early this year demonstrate that Belarus still denies pluralism and civic rights, refuses an open dialog and infringes political freedoms, and the government persecutes opposition members, independent journalists and human rights defenders.
Adrian Severin mentioned that he was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus in 2004. However, the Belarusian authorities practically ignore him – they do not let him enter the country and do not respond to his inquiries. That’s why Mr. Severin asked for extension of authority within his mandate.
Siarhei Aleinik, Permanent Representative of Belarus with the Office of the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva, voiced the official position of Belarus. He called the post of a Special Rapporteur a “relict of the atmosphere of opposition and confrontation which was a feature of the former UN Human Rights Committee and should not be transferred to the newly-reformed structure – the UN Council”.
Mr. Severin’s speech was followed by a long discussion. Before the speech there were representatives of 5 countries who wanted to enter the discussion. However, in the end representatives of 24 countries and regional groups participated in the discussion.
Some of them, in particular, representatives of Russia, China, India, African Group and Organization of the Islamic Conference, criticized the Special rapporteur for his “attempts to go beyond the mandate” and urged to back away from confrontation and politization in the UN Human Rights Council.
Representatives of the European Union, the United States, Canada and some other countries spoke in support of Adrian Severin and expressed “great concern about the situation of human rights in Belarus”.
Prominent Belarusian human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovic supports the idea that Adrian Severin’s mandate authority should be extended: “As for greater authority, I think it would be a good thing. Possibly, then the UN would acquire more effective tools to influence the government of Belarus. At present we observe the situation when the Belarusian authorities completely ignore all UN mechanisms and fail to implement obligations which Belarus took when it ratified the main UN documents on human rights. The authorities simply ignore the UN resolutions on Belarus. The government not only fails to implement them, but even fails to deliver the information about them to the citizens. According to the undertaken obligations, Belarus was to publish them in the media”.
Most likely, final decision about the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus will be made not earlier than February 2007.