EU urges Minsk release all political prisoners including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialatski
EU Statement on the human rights situation in Belarus at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, 18 January 2023
January 18, 2023—Strasbourg
- The European Union remains gravely concerned with the dire and deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus under the Lukashenka regime.
- We note with concern that on 17 January, a trial in absentia of two leaders of the democratic opposition - Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushka - has begun in Minsk. They have been accused of treason, the setting up of an extremist group, conspiracy with a view to overthrowing the government and incitement to hatred. These fabricated charges constitute yet another proof of the contempt of the Minsk regime for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- We urge the authorities in Minsk to immediately release all more than 1440 political prisoners. The list of illegally and unjustly imprisoned persons includes the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialatski, detained since July 2021, and other leaders of the VIASNA movement, whose trial has started on 5 January, with defendants facing 7 to 12 years imprisonment sentences.
- The EU calls on the Belarus authorities to cease these and other politically motivated trials aimed at silencing any independent voice and closing all remaining space for democratic debate in the country.
- On 7 December 2022, the Belarusian House of Representatives passed in the first reading the amendment to the Criminal Code which introduces the death penalty for “treason” committed by officials and military officers. This move, widening even further the scope for the use of capital punishment, is particularly worrying in the context of the increasing political repression in Belarus.
- The EU strongly condemns the ongoing repressions against democratic opposition, human rights defenders, journalists as well as representatives of national minorities and calls on the authorities in Belarus to adhere to their country’s international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE, and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their own citizens.
- The EU further condemns the activities of the regime in Minsk aimed at supporting the barbaric Russian aggression against Ukraine and the renewed attempts to cynically and violently use migrants to create crisis situations at EU borders.
- The EU continues to stand by the people of Belarus and will continue to support its civil society, and their legitimate strive to achieve European standards in the area of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Ukraine and United Kingdom