UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination publishes findings on Belarus
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has published its findings on the countries it examined during its latest session from 20 November to 8 December. These include Belarus, which last reported to the Committee in 2013.
The concluding observations on the combined twentieth to twenty-third periodic report of Belarus have been released following the CERD 94th session. The Committee made recommendations related to information provided in two alternative reports, ADC Memorial’s report on the discrimination of Roma people in the Republic of Belarus and a joint report by four Belarusian human rights groups.
“The Committee shared concerns about the presidential Decree #3 “On preventing social Parasitism” requiring individuals who work fewer than 183 days per year to pay approximately $250 per year as compensation for lost tax. Although this decree has been suspended in 2017 and a new version is being prepared, the Committee stated that such decree disproportionately affects the Roma population. CERD UN asked Belarus to inform it within one year about the implementation of the most important recommendations, one of them concerns the need to avoid using the Decree “On preventing social Parasitism” against vulnerable groups (e.g. Roma),” ADC Memorial’s website said.
“The Committee called on the Belarus government to take measures to end racial profiling by law enforcement authorities, and undertake prompt investigations into all allegations of racial profiling, holding those responsible accountable and providing effective remedies, including compensation,” it said.
The Committee urges the State party to “enact specific legislation containing a definition of racial discrimination in line with article 1 of the Convention and making racial discrimination an offence punishable by law.” It also recommends that “direct and indirect racial discrimination in all fields of public life, including those outlined in article 5 of the Convention, be prohibited in the State party’s administrative and civil laws.”
Belarus is also urged to “establish a single fully independent human rights institution with a broad mandate for the promotion and protection of human rights, including receiving and processing complaints from individuals.”
The UN experts further call on the government to “adopt comprehensive legislation specifically criminalising racist hate speech” and to “ensure that racist or ethnic hatred is consistently taken into account as an aggravating circumstance when it serves as the motivation an offence.”