"International community must work together to force authorities to respect human rights". HRC holds interactive dialogue on Belarus
On July 5, at the 47th session of the UN Council on Human Rights, the issue of Belarus was raised during an interactive dialogue where the Special Rapporteur Anaïs Marin presented her regular report.
She said that since her last report the situation in Belarus had continued to deteriorate, the country was in deep crisis and continued to isolate itself.
"During the presidential election, we faced a deep political crisis. As in previous election campaigns, most opposition candidates were excluded from the process, three of whom are still in prison.
Also, some 530 people are political prisoners for their views or political activities. This is 10 times more than during the previous post-election crisis in 2011.
I join the voices of those who call for their immediate release and exoneration," said Anais Maren in her statement.
The interactive dialogue brought together 35 representatives from different countries and NGOs who condemned human rights violations in Belarus, as well as the forced landing of a Ryanair jet and arrest of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega, and spoke on the need to abolish the death penalty, release all political prisoners, ensure adequate conditions for journalists and lawyers to perform their professional duties and stop their harassment. They also called on the UN Human Rights Council to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus and on the authorities of the country to grant Anais Marin access to Belarus, cooperate with her, and implement her recommendations on overcoming the human rights crisis.
The Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Viasna human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich noted in his speech that the human rights situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate: since August 2020, over 30 thousand people have been detained for participation in peaceful assemblies.
"Politically motivated trials take place in blatant violation of fair trial principles.
The government continues to attack NGOs, human rights defenders, and journalists. Six of my human rights colleagues and 25 journalists are currently in prison, including 15 employees of TUT.BY, the most popular Internet media outlet in the country.
We continue to document cases of torture and ill-treatment. The Human Rights Center Viasna alone has interviewed more than 2,000 victims of torture. The authorities have not investigated any of these cases.
We are particularly concerned about the stifling changes in the legislation that criminalize any public criticism of the regime. Belarus does not comply with its international obligations," said Stefanovich.
He hopes that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur will be extended to allow the international community to follow the developments in Belarus, as "the drama in the country is not its internal affair anymore".
After that, Anais Marin answered the questions of some speakers. In particular, when asked how the Special Rapporteur and the citizens of Belarus could be helped, she replied:
"The primary responsibility for human rights lies with the authorities of the countries concerned. In a situation where the authorities neglect their obligations under international law, I see no other way but to keep up the pressure on these authorities to start respecting human rights. Unfortunately, as far as today's Belarus is concerned, we see a systemic deficit in this regard; the entire governmental system is aimed not at protection, but at reducing and tightening the suppression of human rights. Therefore, the international community should work together to force the authorities of the country to respect human rights.
I invite States-parties to continue submitting their recommendations during the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and to call for the adoption of a human rights plan and measures that will lead to tangible progress, including on constitutional reform."
Let us remind you that on the eve of the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 35 international and Belarusian human rights organizations sent a joint letter to the representatives of the participating countries urging them to support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus.