Belarus: new UN resolution highlights the country’s appalling human rights situation
Geneva - Minsk - Paris, 30 June 2016 — The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council reminded the international community of the appalling situation in Belarus today by adopting a resolution that raises a wide range of human rights violations committed in the country. By renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur — the only watchdog the international community has to follow developments in Belarus — the Council highlighted the need to continue monitoring the behavior of the Belarusian government.
“Today's resolution is an important signal sent to President Lukashenko, in power since 22 years: irrespective of attempts to polish your reputation, you'll remain under international scrutiny as long as you take no steps to guarantee the basic rights of your citizens”, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
Today's resolution was adopted with a large margin: while 15 states supported it, only 9 voted against, which shows widely-shared concerns with regard to the human rights situation in Belarus. The resolution mentions a series of grave human rights violations for which the Belarusian government is responsible, including torture, enforced disappearances, forced labour, violations of freedoms of the media, expression and association, the arbitrary detention and harassment of human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists, and impunity for human rights violations and abuses. It also deplores the government's lack of cooperation with UN and regional human rights mechanisms.
“The vote on Belarus was a test of the Human Rights Council's resolve to push for progress at the national level”, said Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President and President of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. “The ball is now in the government's court. It should implement key recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur over the past years, which are a clear road map for human rights reform”, he added.
The Human Rights Council is the main UN body for the promotion and protection of human rights. It has the ability to appoint independent experts (“Special Rapporteurs”) in charge of monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in countries. The Human Rights Council is made up of 47 states, which serve for a three-year term. Belarus has been on the Council's agenda since the violent repression of protests related to the 2010 presidential election.
To reveal the extent and gravity of the human rights violations that continue to be committed in Belarus and to call on Human Rights Council members to support the renewal of the Special Rapporteur's mandate, in May 2016 FIDH launched a campaign entitled “Belarus: a dictatorship at the gates of the European Union”: www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/act4belarus/en
Watch the campaign video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc9kBar82Qo
On its website, Act4Belarus also published 9 interviews of Belarusian activists who have witnessed a great deal, including: Alena Tonkacheva (Chairman of the Board of the Legal Transformation Center), Andrei Bastunets (Belarusian Association of Journalists), Raisa Mikhailouskaya (Belarusian Documentation Center), Valiantsin Stefanovic (Human Rights Center “Viasna”), Natalya Mankouskaya (Human Rights Center Identity), Inna Kulei (Solidarnost). All highlight preocuppying situations and rights that are systematically flouted: freedoms of the media and of expression, freedom of association, LGBTI rights, the right to life and the death penalty, political prisoners, etc.
 - 23 states abstained (Algeria, Bangladesh, Botswana, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Togo, United Arab Emirates).
- States that voted in favour of the resolution: Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Latvia, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
- States that voted against the resolution: Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, India, Nigeria, Russia, Venezuela, Vietnam.