UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus: End the atmosphere of repression and fear

2022 2022-06-09T17:52:01+0300 2022-06-09T17:54:14+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/23-img_2458-anais-marin-1.jpeg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The UN website has published the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anaïs Marin. In this report the Special Rapporteur describes trends, concerns and progress with regard to the situation of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in Belarus. The report will be presented on June 28 in Geneva.

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Anaïs Marin

The report covers the period from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. It analyses the developments and trends that followed the contested presidential election of 9 August 2020. 

The analysis shows that the Belarusian authorities neglected multiple calls and recommendations by domestic and international actors to find human rights-based solutions to the crisis. Instead, the repressive policies and hard-handed responses pursued to deter real and perceived opposition to the Government have led to the further deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.” notes Anaïs Marin.

The Special Rapporteur analyses the continuing repression of political dissent, the further curtailment of freedom of opinion and expression in the country, and the growing number of arbitrary arrests and detentions on politically motivated grounds. In her report, Anaïs Marin pays particular attention to analysis of the constitutional reform in Belarus, noting the immediate negative and potentially farreaching consequences of some of the newly adopted provisions of the new Constitution. The Special Rapporteur concludes that the Government’s policies of systematic persecution, intimidation, harassment and the use of criminal and administrative charges in an attempt to suppress civic activism, freedom of the media and participation in public affairs have led to the virtual eradication of civic space, while the constitutional reform fails to address pressing issues. The mandate holder makes recommendations for addressing the deplorable human rights situation in Belarus.

The Special Rapporteur is alarmed that the already precarious human rights situation in Belarus has deteriorated further and reiterates her view that the situation requires continuous attention and monitoring. She calls for dialogue and coordinated efforts to enhance respect for human rights.” the report says.

Persecution of human rights defenders

Anaïs Marin demanded the release of coordinator of Viasna’s volunteer network Marfa Rabkova:

“The Special Rapporteur has called for the immediate release of the human rights defender Marfa Rabkova and some 60 other persons in arbitrary detention to avert serious risk to their health.”

The Special Rapporteur is concerned by the authorities’ policy of reprisals and judicial harassment against civil society organizations and individual human rights defenders.78 The 2021 annual report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights79 details two cases of reprisals, against the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Viasna Human Rights Centre.

“During the reporting period, security officers conducted raids and searches at the offices of civil society organizations seen as defiant of the Government’s policies. The authorities were particularly targeting human rights organizations, such as the Viasna Human Rights Centre, whose offices in various cities of Belarus were repeatedly searched and whose staff members were detained. Uladzimir Labkovich, a Viasna lawyer, and Valiantsin Stefanovich, a Viasna board member, were detained following searches at their homes. Furthermore, Ales Bialiatski, the head and founder of Viasna, was arrested on 14 July 2021. Seven members of Viasna continue to be detained arbitrarily, including five who are in pretrial detention.”

Searches were carried out at the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Imena journal, Lawtrend, Human Constanta and several other civil society organizations working on human rights in Belarus. According to the latest numbers available, 32 human rights defenders have been arrested or charged with crimes and are currently detained, and seven have already received prison sentences.

“The Special Rapporteur concludes that in the period under consideration, the overall situation of human rights in Belarus continued to deteriorate, due to further tightening of already overregulating legislation on human rights, dismantling the country’s civic space, and increasing the number of people sentenced on politically motivated charges. This atmosphere of impunity and fear led to a mass exodus of the political opposition, civic activists, intellectuals, and many ordinary people.”

Recommendations of the Special Rapporteur to the Belarusian government

In this regard, among other things, the UN representative calls on the Government of Belarus to:

  • put an end to the policy of systematic repression against civil society organizations and human rights defenders,
  • release all prisoners sentenced on politically motivated grounds,
  • revoke the decisions on the forced dissolution of independent media and civil society organizations,
  • put an immediate end to acts of pressure, intimidation and persecution and other forms of reprisal against lawyers,
  • ensure a prompt, transparent and effective investigation by an independent and impartial body into all cases of death in custody and all reports of torture and other ill-treatment,
  • ensure a prompt, transparent and effective investigation by an independent and impartial body into all cases of death in custody and all reports of torture and other ill-treatment,
  • take comprehensive measures to reverse the trend of mass exile of Belarusians from their homeland, and end the atmosphere of repression and fear,
  • work towards abolishing the death penalty in law and introduce an immediate moratorium on its use.

Read the full report:

 

UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus: End the atmosphere of repression and fear

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