Human Rights Defenders Present Key Recommendations in Brussels Concerning Belarus
On April 11 to 13, a delegation of several human rights defenders, consisting of Tatsiana Reviaka (the president of the Belarusian Human Rights House and a member of the human rights center Viasna) Antanina Maslyka (a representative of the Belarusian Human Rights House) and Zhanna Litvina (Board member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists) met with representatives of two working groups of the EU Council – the one on human rights and on East Europe and Central Asia, and also with representatives of the European External Action Service, MPs of the European Parliament and an Advisor of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights.
The meetings were organized with the support of the Brussels office of the Human Rights House Foundation to discuss the situation around the resumed repressions, carried out by Belarusian authorities, and effective measures for the international community in further relations with the official Minsk. The human rights defenders presented a list of key recommendations for the international community on how to solve the issues connected with the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus.
“The European Union has to take consistent decisive measures to solve the issues related to the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus, which testifies to the return of repressions, general lack of progress and the unwillingness of the authorities to really fight violations of human rights. To attain progress in the sphere of human rights, there is the need of constant monitoring, political pressure, common dialogue and open space for the civil society,” says the introductory part to the recommendations.
Some of the recommendations are directly linked to the events of the latest months in Belarus: the human rights defenders ask the EU and its member-states to call on Belarus authorities to release unconditionally all those detained because of the wave of peaceful protest demonstrations and to stop prosecution and threats to those who exercise their right to free assembly, the right to free expression and free association, and to ensure these rights to all citizens of Belarus; to ensure strict observance of all procedural guarantees to the persons detained within the criminal case and to abstain from all forms of pressure on the persons involved in the criminal proceedings, including the lawyers. There is a separate recommendation to demand the release of political prisoners and to annul criminal record of former political prisoners with the view to full restoring of their civil and political rights.
Besides, the human rights defenders mention the necessity for Belarus to implement the minimal measures to ensure progress in the sphere of human rights, including comprehensive cooperation with the mechanisms of the UN and the OSCE. The measures include introducing a moratorium on death penalty; abolition of article 193.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, which forbids activities of unregistered organizations; systematic work to bring the Belarusian legislation in compliance with international standards in the sphere of human rights, etc. Special attention is paid to the issue of recognizing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus and launching cooperation with him. The appeal to the EU also emphasizes the recommendation to regard the Belarusian human rights community, including unregistered non-governmental organization, as an equal participant in the dialogue on human rights between the EU and Belarus.