Delegation of US government meets with “Viasna” leadership
A United States Government Inter-Agency delegation from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Departments of State and Defence completed a two and a half day official visit to Minsk. The delegation included Paige Alexander, Assistant Administrator of USAID; Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary from Department of State; and Evelyn Farkas, Deputy Assistant Secretary from Department of Defence.
During the visit, the delegation had a number of meetings with leeders of political parties, civil society organizations and human rights activists.
September 10, representatives of the United States government delegation met with the leadership of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna". They discussed the current situation of human rights in Belarus and the general state of the civil society. Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski was particularly concerned by the existence of political prisoners in the country and stressed that the release of political prisoners must be regarded as a prerequisite for the development of closer relations with the official Minsk. During the conversation he also voiced concern about the possible increased repression against civil society before the next presidential election in 2015.
Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Valentin Stefanovich briefed the United States government delegation to the activities of the organization at the international level, focusing on the joint preparation by the Belarusian human rights defenders of an alternative report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Lawyer Paul Sapelka briefed the delegation to the state of the legal profession in the Republic of Belarus.
The visit of the inter-agency government delegation of the USA to Belarus is aimed at continuing the collaboration with our country for development of a bilateral dialogue, at the same time giving priority to the strengthening of democratic standards and the support of civil society.