Belarus to report at UN Human Rights Committee
For the first time since 1997, Belarus will present its report on the implementation of its international obligations at a session of the UN Human Rights Committee. The list of questions prepared by the Committee includes those that have been recommended by the Belarusian human rights activists.
In accordance with the established procedure, every four years State parties should present their periodic report on the implementation of their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Belarusian government is to prepare answers to the list of issues prepared by the Human Rights Committee, which will shape its future report.
In developing the list, Belarusian NGOs were able to prepare a report with proposals on the scope of questions that could be asked. The Coalition of Belarusian human rights organizations has analyzed the human rights situation and developed a series of recommendations, which were submitted to the Committee in April 2015.
The report, which was prepared by Belarusian human rights defenders, including graduates of the program “International Law in Advocacy”, recommended to request both general information about the human rights situation in the country and specific information on the implementation of articles of the Covenant, taking into account previous recommendations of the Committee. For example, the human rights activists proposed to ask questions about the protection of the right to life and the right to a fair trial, the prohibition of torture and other degrading treatment or punishment, freedom of movement and freedom of conscience and religious beliefs. They also drew attention to the issues of discrimination, forced labor, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of association and the right to participation in public affairs.
It is important to note that many of the issues prepared by Belarusian NGOs were eventually included in the Committee’s list of questions to Belarus, which was adopted in July 2015. The human rights defenders’ proposals that were taken into account included issues related to the death penalty, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly. In addition, Belarus will now have to comment on the cases of arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement in respect of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, the expulsion of Belarusian human rights activist Alena Tankachova, harassment and intimidation of lawyers working on politically motivated cases.