Belarus human rights organisations urge EU to maintain firm position towards Belarus. A Press Release by FIDH

2016 2016-02-05T11:51:54+0300 2016-02-05T13:30:10+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/fidh6.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
International Federation for Human Rights

International Federation for Human Rights

On February 2nd and 3rd, Ales Bialiatski, President of Human Rights Centre Viasna and FIDH Vice-President and Zhanna Litvina, board member of the Belarus Association of Journalists, came to Brussels to present to the EU the concerted position reached by several Belarus human rights organisations on the development of EU-Belarus relations. [1]

"Since the release of political prisoners in August 2015, there has been fundamentally no systemic change in the human rights situation of the country”

Ales Bialiatski

Despite the leading to normalisation of the EU-Belarus relations, Belarusian human rights organisations continue to report a high level of human rights violations over the last few months [2]. Human rights defenders are still subject to harassment. Moreover, several civil society organisations are still refused registration. Human Rights Centre Viasna continues to work without registration, risking criminal prosecution under art. 193.1 of the Criminal Code.

Journalists working for independent media or working for foreign media without accreditation are detained, prosecuted and fined. [3] Recently, a journalist was beaten in a courtroom by the police [4].

Belarus remains the last European country to apply the death penalty. One execution has already been carried out since the beginning of the year and three prisoners are currently on death row.

“It is a decisive time for the EU to obtain real commitments from the Belarusian authorities. But this requires a clear public positioning backed by strong political leverage and followed by continuous monitoring involving the UN and the civil society”

Zhanna Litvina

In their meetings with the EU Member States, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, and the EU Special Representative on Human Rights, Ales Bialiatski and Zhanna Litvina insisted on the need for the EU to place a human rights road map at the centre of discussions with the Belarusian authorities. Belarusian human rights organisations presented a number of measures, in areas such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, abolition of death penalty, rehabilitation of former political prisoners, which require no legislative changes and could be implemented immediately by the Belarusian authorities. [5] These should be the basis for a rapprochement between EU and Belarus.

Background

In January 2011, the EU Member States adopted restrictive measures (visa ban and asset freeze) against the Belarus officials deemed responsible for violation of international electoral standards in the December 2010 presidential elections or the crackdown on civil society, the democratic opposition and independent media. The sanction regime was since then renewed regularly because political prisoners remained behind bars and because the EU considered that the respect for human rights, the rule of law and the respect for democratic principles had not significantly improved.

On 29 October 2015, the 28 EU Member States decided to suspend until 29 February 2016 the application of the restrictive measures against 175 individuals and 14 entities associated with human rights violations in Belarus. After this decision, Human Rights Center Viasna and FIDH called on the EU to seek concrete commitments from the Belarus authorities on key human rights reforms before taking new decisions on the development of relations with Belarus. [6]

Footnotes

[1] Concerted position by Belarusian human rights organisations on priorities in shaping the strategy of international partners’ relations with Belarus, 28 January 2016, http://spring96.org/en/news/82095.

[2] Human Rights Centre Viasna, Human Rights Situation in Belarus in 2015. Analytical review, 24 January 2016, http://spring96.org/en/news/81992.

[3] Belarusian Association of Journalists, Mass Media in Belarus, October-December 2015, http://baj.by/sites/default/files/analytics/files/5452015_mass_media_in_belarus_en.pdf

[4] Belarus Association of Journalists, BAJ Demands Criminal Investigation into the Fact of Beating a Journalist, 26 January 2016, http://baj.by/en/content/baj-demands-criminal-investigation-fact-beating-journalist.

[5] Human Rights Center Viasna, Human rights defenders call on government to take urgent restorative measures, 9 December 2015, http://spring96.org/en/news/81547.

[6] FIDH and Human Rights Centre Viasna, EU and Belarus: three months to convince, 1 December 2015, https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/eu-and-belarus-three-months-to-convince.

Source: fidh.org

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