HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES REPORTS ON SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN SUDAN AND BELARUS (Excerpt from UN Press Release)
Report on Situation of Human Rights in Belarus
The Council has before it a report (E/CN.4/2006/36, awailable at http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/7259984.html) entitled report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights situation in Belarus which states that in 2005, like in 2004, the Government of Belarus did not cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in the fulfilment of his mandate, despite numerous attempts made to engage in a constructive dialogue. Therefore, the report is based on the findings of the Special Rapporteur's missions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, consultations held in Geneva, Strasbourg and Brussels, and on media reports and documentary sources.
The Special Rapporteur expresses increased concern at the steady deterioration of the situation of human rights in 2005, and urges the Government of Belarus to put an end to the ongoing human rights violations described in the present report and to bring their perpetrators to justice; to recognize all the resolutions adopted by the Commission on Human Rights and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur; to launch a public education and public-awareness programme in the field of human rights; and to convene a national round table on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Belarus to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as soon as it will be opened for signature and ratification, and recommends the Council to request the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately establish a group of legal experts to investigate the responsibility of senior officials of the Government of Belarus in the disappearance and murders of several politicians and journalists, and make concrete proposals for their prosecution, in order to bring to an end the impunity of those involved in such crimes.
Presentation of Report of Special Rapporteur on Belarus
ADRIAN SEVERIN, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, said since his last report, during 2005 and 2006, the human rights situation in the country had constantly deteriorated to such an extent that the elements usually defining a dictatorship could be seen. Civil and political rights were limited, cultural rights were ignored, and economic and other rights were enhanced to reward for obedience. During the last 18 months, two negative developments had been seen: a State Official Ideology, based on former Soviet concepts had been virtually imposed; the ethno-cultural diversity, unproblematic before, had been used to divide the country. While the resistance against the regime was increasing steadily, important parts of society were politically passive, and limited themselves to silent opposition.
During the first half of 2006, not less than 11 communications had been set to the Government, which raised serious concerns regarding human rights defenders, freedom of expression, arbitrary detention, religious intolerance, independence of justice, and torture. Only one response had been received, and this stated basically only an abstract readiness of the Government to cooperate with the thematic procedures. The Government had refused any cooperation with the country Rapporteur and this was not in coherence with the United Nations Charter. In parallel with the execution of the Special Rapporteur's mandate, at least seven other mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders and others, had addressed urgent appeals, most of which had been unanswered, and those answers received were superficial. All had converged on the same opinion of human rights in Belarus.
The Special Rapporteur's opinions and assessments had been fully confirmed by the OSCE, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the European Council and Parliament, and others. It was impossible to believe that all of these were wrong and biased. There were a few international players that supported the actual situation - most of which themselves had a problematic situation with regards to human rights. The rest were moved apparently by geo-political reasons, which had taken hostage human rights. Without the cooperation of the Russian Federation, the efforts of the international community to promote respect for human rights in Belarus would enjoy very limited success. All recommendations addressed to the Government in 2005 had been ignored, and these were reiterated. Under such circumstances, the mobilisation and action of the international community was essential for the situation of Belarus and its people. The Human Rights Council should ask the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to join the efforts of other international organizations to organise an international conference to discuss the situation of human rights in Belarus. The Special Rapporteur believed the extension of the special mandate was the least the international community could do in order to keep the hope that an improvement of the human rights record in that country was possible.
Statement by Belarus as a Concerned Country
SERGEI ALEINIK (Belarus), speaking as a concerned country, said that it had repeatedly stated its principle position of rejection of the mandate of this Special Rapporteur. The content of the report was a clear attempt to stigmatise and slander Belarus. The Special Rapporteur was doing this in a clearly straightforward manner, in the best tradition of notorious cold war propaganda. The Special Rapporteur made an attempt to criticize the Belarusian political and economic model, the national system of education, healthcare and social protection. He was claiming to have used reports of international organizations for this purpose. In a paradoxical manner, however, his statements were in full contradiction with the conclusions contained in the reports he referred to.
Belarus wondered how the mandate of the Special Rapporteur had become possible. The answer was evident. The Special Rapporteur on Belarus was a remnant of the atmosphere of politicisation, which marred the Commission on Human Rights and logically brought this body to a well-know end.
The Member States were currently grappling with an immense and challenging task of developing the mechanisms that would constitute the basis for constructive and comprehensive interaction of all States on the issue of promotion of human rights. The Council had a unique opportunity to work on issues in a new way, abandon senseless confrontation once and for all, and create a new genuinely universal system of evaluation of human rights.