Joint Statement by High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Štefan Füle on the trial of Human Rights defender Ales Byalyatski
Brussels, 23 November 2011
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, and Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, made today the following statement:
“We are seriously concerned about the detention and prosecution of internationally renownedBelarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski for alleged tax evasion.
We consider the charges against Ales Byalyatski in the ongoing trial as a politically motivatedpretext to target his important work to the benefit of victims of repression. As such, the ongoingtrial is a highly visible and symbolic manifestation of the crackdown on civil society in Belarussince the 19 December 2010 Presidential elections.
We call on Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Byalyatski and to drop thecharges against him and against his deputy Valyantsin Stefanovich.”