UN Rapporteur Miklos Haraszti publishes a report on Belarus
Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, Miklos
Haraszti, has published his first report on the situation of human
rights in the country. The document was prepared under the mandate
approved by the UN Council on Human Rights, and presented at the
Council on 18 April.
According to Mr. Haraszti, human rights are systematically limited, especially in the case of freedom of association, assembly and expression, as well as the right to fair trial. The Special Rapporteur notes the centralization of the legislative and executive branches around Lukashenka's administration.
Miklos Haraszti is concerned about the lack of the rule of law in Belarus, in particular with regard to the procedural safeguards provided for in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Numerous meetings with human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations reflect a distrust of the legal system. As there is no belief that the legal system can be a guarantor of the rights in situations where it is contrary to the interests of the authorities.
According to the report, widespread violations of human rights are overlooked, which emphasizes the centralization of the legislative and executive branches around the presidential administration. Lukashenka's decrees are used as the main laws and, in fact, have a higher legal force in the legislative mechanism of the country.
More specifically, the Special Rapporteur to the following questions in his report:
1. The right to life and the death penalty;
2. Enforced disappearances;
3. Prison conditions, torture and other cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment;
4. Attitude towards political opponents, human rights defenders and activists;
5. The independence of judges and lawyers;
6. Free trial;
7. Arbitrary detentions and convictions;
8. Freedom of expression and opinion;
9. Freedom of peaceful assembly;
10. Freedom of association and human rights defenders;
12. Attitude towards LGBT persons;
13. Labor rights and trade unions;
In the section concerning freedom of association and human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur notes that though the recent and the planned changes to the legislation have some positive norms, there has been no improvements in the general situation of public associations. The Special Rapporteur draws attention to the fact that according to the presidential decree of 24 January 2013, institutions and associations can be liquidated if their leaders are put on prophylactic register – a procedure which remains legally undefined and arbitrary.
Mr. Hararszti highlights the pressure on human rights organizations, including the judicial liquidation of the human rights organization "Platform" and the confiscation of the premises of the Human Rights Center "Viasna".
The document also contains recommendations to improve the human rights situation in Belarus. Among other things, the Special Rapporteur recommends changes in legislation and practice to ensure that associations could be created through a procedure that is simple, easily accessible, non-discriminatory, unimpeded and free.
Bear in mind that the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus was established by the UN Human Rights Council on 5 July 2012, and in September Miklos Haraszti, a representative of Hungary, was appointed to this position. Based on the results of his activities, he was to present a report on the human rights situation in Belarus, the UN Council on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly. However, the Belarusian authorities refused to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur. M. Haraszti wasn't given an opportunity to visit Belarus to study the situation on the ground, including meetings with state officials: the Belarusian authorities denied him a visa.
The report in English can be found on the website of the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius.