Human Rights House Network calls upon Belarus to take urgent measures to meet international human rights standards

2010 2010-09-27T17:59:48+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 22-23 September Vilnius hosted the 2010 Human Rights House Network (HRHN) Annual Meeting, a forum of cooperation between established and emerging Human Rights Houses, uniting 70 NGOs in 15 countries. The Meeting was attended by human rights defenders from 17 countries.

The participants of the Meeting released an appeal to the Belarusian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka, calling the Belarusian authorities to take urgent measures to meet international human rights standards.

Here is the full text of the statement:


To: Mr. Alexander Lukashenko

President of the Republic of Belarus 

Fax:  (375 17) 226 06 10   

22 September 2010

Vilnius, Lithuania 


Call upon Belarus to Take Urgent Measures to Meet International Human Rights Standards


We,   the   participants   of   the   2010 Human Rights  House  Network  (HRHN)  Annual  Meeting, 

express our deep concern about serious and systematic human rights violations  in Belarus.

Belarus continues to ignore its international legal human rights obligations.

• Belarus   fails   to   secure   the  rights   and   freedoms   of   its   citizens,   as   safeguarded   by   the

international   treaties  it   is  a party  to.  The  country’s  existing   legislation  contains  excessive

restrictions making it highly problematic to exercise these rights and freedoms;

• More than 11 years after the disappearances and suspicious deaths of well-known public and

political   figures   and/or   journalists,   no   impartial   and   transparent   investigation   has   been


• Opponents of   the regime are subjected  to criminal  and administrative prosecution and  the

country’s prisons hold a number of political prisoners;

• Belarus   remains   the   only   country  in Europe   and  the  post-Soviet   region where   the  death

sentence is still used;

• The   government   retains  an   effective   monopoly   on   information   and   upholds   harshly

discriminatory practices   against   independent  mass  media   and  journalists.  The  President’s

Decree #60 Regarding Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet

constitutes a considerable threat to the right to obtain and spread information;

• The right to freedom of assembly and association is not respected,  as underlined by the UN

Human Rights  Commissioner   for  Human  Rights   at   the  15th

  session   of   the  Human  Rights

Council.  The government   continues  to  close down existing NGOs and deny  registration  to

emerging NGOs, while activities of unregistered NGOs ones are punishable under the Criminal 

Law (Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code). 17 persons have been found guilty of violating this 

article in the period of 2006-2009;

• Obstacles are created for the activities of human rights NGOs, since many of them have been

judicially deprived of  their official  status  in recent years and forced to continue their work

under   the   risk  of   criminal  prosecution.  Human  rights  defenders   are   exposed  to   constant 

pressure and intimidation as well as criminal and administrative prosecution.

• Belarus has repeatedly failed to submit periodic reports on a number of key United Nations

(UN) conventions and covenants. It has refused to cooperate with Special Rapporteurs, ignored

their   recommendations   and   rejected  most   recommendations   addressing   pressing   human

rights concerns,  voiced by the UN Human Rights Council at the Universal Periodical Review. 

Belarusian authorities  have also dismissed decisions  by  the UN Human Rights  Committee

following individual communications. 

We  would  like   to   acknowledge   a positive  development.  We  welcome   the  human  rights  dialogue

between   the   Belarusian   government   and   the   European   Union   (EU).   However,   we   are   deeply

disappointed with the failure on the part of Belarus to meet preliminary EU requirements to include

the country in the Eastern Partnership program. Belarus has ignored the requirements to: 1) hold no

political prisoners; 2) ensure the freedom of media; 3) maintain the cooperation with the Organisation

for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on electoral legislation reform; 4) improve conditions

for NGOs’ activities; 5) secure the right to freedom of assembly and political associations.

We, therefore, call upon the government of the Republic of Belarus:

• To release political  prisoners,  restore  the rights of   those punished on  the grounds of   their

political  opinions or public activism,  and reinstate the expelled students and  the dismissed

public and political figures;

• To conduct full, independent and impartial investigations of all disappearances and suspicious

deaths of public figures during the last 11 years; and identify and prosecute the perpetrators;

• To urgently exclude the use of capital punishment from the national legislation;

• To abandon the effective monopoly of information, ensure freedom of expression, and refrain

from  using   restrictive  measures   against   independent  media   and   freedom  of   expression, 

particularly the Internet regulations of 2010;

• To repeal Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code, which provides for the imprisonment of up to two

years for those individuals who undertake activities on behalf of unregistered NGOs, political 

parties or foundations;

• To   abide   by   their   human   rights   obligations   by   reconsidering   its   approach   and   take   all

necessary measures to meet the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council and the

decisions of the UN Human Rights Committee;

Finally, we underline the need to run the upcoming presidential campaign and election in a free, fair

and competitive environment in accordance with the national law and the OSCE criteria for elections, 

rather than in the usual atmosphere of fear and repressions.


Participants of the 2010 Human Rights House Network (HRHN) Annual Meeting


The Human Rights House Network is a forum of cooperation between established and emerging Human  Rights Houses, uniting 70 NGOs in 15 countries. HRHN´s aim is to protect, strengthen and support human  rights defenders and their organisations.

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