viasna on patreon

UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus report: “Hostile environment is used as a powerful tool to compel people to leave”

2022 2022-08-26T13:00:05+0300 2022-08-26T13:00:19+0300 en 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 he report, the Special Rapporteur focuses on the situation of Belarusian nationals compelled to leave their country and unable to safely return due to human rights violations, including denial of civil and political rights, such as arbitrary detention or a lack of access to fair trial, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Their migration is directly connected to policies and practices employed by the Government of Belarus, as well as to the purposefully hostile environment that prevents a safe return. The consistent pattern of human rights violations reveals a specific State strategy aimed at eradicating all dissent or challenges to the current leadership and governance in the country. The Special Rapporteur makes recommendations to the Government of Belarus and the international community to identify sustainable solutions meant to give effect to their international human rights obligations concerning Belarusian nationals compelled to leave their country.

The Special Rapporteur notes the complex combination of reasons that force Belarusian nationals to leave their country, including systematic violations of the human rights of persons expressing or holding dissenting views, as well as the overall atmosphere of fear, intimidation and impunity that dominates Belarusian society:

“The Belarusian authorities have deliberately created a hostile environment in which targeted individuals and professional groups cannot reasonably be expected to remain in the country. A combination of laws, policies and practices is used as a powerful tool to compel people to leave. As impunity persists and the human rights situation continues to deteriorate, Belarusians in exile have limited prospects for safe return. The lack of an independent judiciary aggravates the situation and impedes progress.”

The Special Rapporteur calls upon the Government to demonstrate political will and leadership in ensuring meaningful progress in the implementation of the recommendations stemming from international and regional human rights mechanisms, including those made previously by the mandate holder, many of which remain valid. 

The Special Rapporteur made 11 recommendations to the Belarusian authorities, including:

(a) Review the policies and practices employed by the Government that compel Belarusian nationals to leave their country, including by putting an end to the authorities’ strategy aimed at criminalizing political dissent in Belarus and/or eradicating alternative views by harassment, threats or other intimidation, and create conditions for a pluralism of views in all public spheres, including in the political realm.

(b) Conduct a comprehensive review of national legislation with the aim of harmonizing it with international human rights standards, including by removing the overly restrictive articles and clauses – including those that may be subject to abuse, such as the extended application of the death penalty – that tighten control or otherwise hinder the exercise of human rights, including those pertaining to freedom of assembly, association, expression and other rights and freedoms vital for the democratic civic space.

(c) Put an immediate end to the policy of eradication of civil society, including the practice of raids on the premises of civil society organizations and searches in the private dwellings of civic activists and human rights defenders, and restore the civil society organizations that were dissolved following politically motivated pretexts and/or spurious charges.

(d) Open the information space in Belarus, put an immediate end to the policy of liquidation of independent media outlets and stop the practice of blocking the dissemination of their information, including through the Internet and social networks.

(e) Stop the practice of threats to economic, social and cultural rights, including discrimination and arbitrary dismissal from employment and studies, and ensure the free functioning of trade unions, cultural and minority organizations, and academic freedoms.

(f) Free, immediately and unconditionally, all those sentenced to prison terms for exercising their legitimate civil and political rights, drop the politically motivated charges against them and ensure their full rehabilitation.

(g) Put an end to the pressure and intimidation against lawyers, in particular those engaged in defending members of the political opposition, human rights defenders, civic activists and independent media workers, and ensure the rule of law and due judicial processes in course.

(h) Conduct a comprehensive review of the terms of reference, operational modalities and working methods of the State institutions and agencies involved in A/77/195 22/22 22-11379 systematic harassment and human rights violations, in particular the State Control Committee, the Investigative Committee, the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption and the Committee of State Security.

(i) Bring to justice those State officials who were involved in human rights violations, such as torture and ill-treatment, thus eliminating widespread impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations, which contributed to the atmosphere of fear, the main factor compelling Belarusians into mass exile.

(j) Discontinue the policies and practices related to persecution and harassment of Belarusian nationals who left the country, including by discontinuing requests for the extradition of supporters of the political opposition, civic activists, human rights defenders, media workers, lawyers and other categories of people who have not been engaged in any criminal activity.

(k) Put in place meaningful conditions for the safe and sustainable return of Belarusian nationals, as well as their full reintegration into Belarusian society, by eliminating the risk that they might be subjected to further human rights violations, providing adequate protection for their enjoyment of human rights and ensuring the availability of remedies for their rehabilitation. 95. The Special Rapporteur further recommends that other States, the international community and international organizations: (a) Promote safe and accessible pathways for Belarusians compelled to leave their country and ensure the availability of humanitarian pathways to entry.

(b) Uphold the human rights of Belarusian nationals who were compelled to leave their country, including by promoting their inclusion in receiving societies and ensuring their rights to work, health care, education and other socioeconomic and cultural rights without discrimination and, in this regard, develop partnerships and mobilize funds to give effect to these rights.

(c) Promote an enabling environment and conditions for Belarusians in exile to continue meaningfully participating in public life in Belarus and, in this context, consider adopting programmes aimed at supporting the usual legitimate activities of civil society organizations and media groups.

(d) Consider the unique and individual circumstances of each person, as well as the needs of Belarusian nationals in vulnerable situations, such as age, gender identity, disability and health status, and ensure gender-responsive human rights-based approaches, bearing in mind that women and girls more often find themselves in particularly vulnerable situations.

(e) Ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is strictly observed and exercise due diligence to avoid placing individuals at risk, in line with obligations under international human rights law.

(f) Establish effective mechanisms to provide legal status to Belarusian nationals who are unable to return, including those who cannot be removed on international human rights grounds.

(g) Pay special attention and provide support to Belarusian nationals who were in exile in Ukraine and were compelled to leave again due to the war in Ukraine.

Read the full report


UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus report: “Hostile environment is used as a powerful tool to compel people to leave”

Latest news