The situation of human rights and the situation of human rights defenders in Belarus will be discussed at the UN General Assembly
The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, is to present his first report tothe General Assembly on October 23rd 2014. TheSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of humanrights in Belarus, Miklos Harastzi, is to present athematic report on human rights defenders inBelarus to the General Assembly on October 28.
On October 23, in the continuation of the report on the situation of human rights defenders, is to be a side event with the participation of representatives from Belarus and Ukraine. Representative of our country is Tatiana Raviaka (HRC "Viasna" and the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House), Ukraine - Oleksandra Matviychuk(Centre for Civil Liberties and EuroMaidan SOS) and Vadzim Pivavarau ( Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law-Enforcement).International organizations that provide support to the event are Human Rights House Foundation and the International Federation for Human Rights.
As stated in the announcement of the event, Whilst Belarus and Ukraine are neighbours andshare common history, the human rights situationsin these countries are very different and they todayface different challenges. At the same time, they aregood illustrations of the challenges faced by humanrights defenders in Eastern Europe. Both countriesenjoy an active civil society, which is working mainlyunderground in Belarus and still not working withfull recognition and acknowledgement in Ukraine.It emphasizes the role of human rights defenders, which is crucial for the development of both countries towards democracy and the rule of law.
Outlining the range of problems in the Ukrainian and Belarusian human rights defenders, organizers note the following:
"Human rights defenders in Ukraine providedsupport to peaceful demonstrators and documented human rights violations during EuroMaidan,including the widespread use of torture and thekillings by law enforcement agencies. Today, civilsociety is at the forefront of providing humanitarianassistance to those who have to flee Eastern andSouthern Ukraine, especially Crimea, and pushingfor democratic reforms in Ukraine, whilst documenting high-scale human rights violations in EasternUkraine and Crimea.
For years,Belarusian human rights defenders havebeen working on reforming the country, facingsystemic and systematic violations of their corerights to freedom of expression, association andpeaceful assembly. There is no space in Belarus forhuman rights defenders to assess public policiesindependently from the State and defend the rightsof victims of human rights violations. As highlightedby the Special Rapporteur on Belarus in his report tothe General Assembly, human rights defenders facecriminalisation by the country's legislation and facethreats and harassment, arbitrary detention, including short-term detentions and long-term imprisonments, torture and ill treatment, and restrictions onmovement. The situation of vulnerable groups, suchas LGBT rights defenders is also worrying.”
October 24th the side-event of the Belarusian and Ukrainian human rights defenders and theSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of humanrights in Belarus Miklos Harastzi will be held at Columbia University in New York.