UN Human Rights Council hosts news conference on situation in Belarus

2013 2013-05-28T16:14:52+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

A news conference on the human rights situation in Belarus was held in Geneva on Monday within the framework of a session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Organized by the Human Rights House Network, the event featured Aleh Hulak, chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee; Tatsyana Ravyaka, a member of a human rights organization called Vyasna; and Andrey Bastunets, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

“The news conference drew a lot of attention,” Mr. Hulak told BelaPAN. “In fact, more than 60 diplomats were in attendance. We said that despite some positive developments, the overall situation in Belarus had not changed for the better. The main problems are the lack of an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and association. We stressed that the situation had not improved. There has been no systemic reform in Belarus or any signals from its government that it’s ready to respect human rights.”

Participants at the news conference also spoke about politically motivated imprisonment, the application of the death penalty and the restoration of the position of the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on Belarus, Mr. Hulak said. They criticized the Belarusian government for refusing to recognize the mandate of the rapporteur, he said.

On June 4, the UN Human Rights Council is scheduled to consider a report by the rapporteur, Miklos Haraszti, a Hungarian politician.

Mr. Haraszti was unable to visit Belarus while preparing his report because Minsk denied him an entry visa. Belarusian opposition politicians, civil society activists, human rights defenders, and journalists had to travel abroad to meet with him.