UN Special Rapporteur Calls Freedom of Assembly Situation in Belarus Alarming

2012 2012-06-25T16:19:59+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

However, Switzerland and Canada were mentioned in negative context, too.

The state of the freedom of assembly and association in Belarus is a cause for concern, said Maina Kiai, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, BelaPAN says.

Ethiopia, the Russian Federation and Jordan were also called the countries which lack the freedom of associations.

Maina Kiai expressed concerns over recently enacted laws in Belarus, which he said seriously restrict the freedom of assembly and association and democratic standards in general. He also sounded an alarm over the persecution of human rights defenders and civil society activists in Belarus.

The rapporteur's office has submitted four requests for information on certain cases to the Geneva-based Belarus mission to the UN, as well as has asked for permission for Mr. Kiai to visit Belarus, but has not received a single reply.

Mr. Kiai stressed that he would like to visit Belarus to get a better idea of the situation in the country and verify all reports of rights abuses on the ground.

However, Maina Kiai listed Canada among the countries where “the laws are particularly harsh in terms of restricting the freedom of association,” National Post reports.

The concern over Canada was caused by recently passed Bill No. 78 which demands the protest march organizers to give the police eight hours’ notice before the protest starts. The Canadian bill was the result of the students’ protest rallies against tuitions fees increase.

The decision of the referendum in Geneva that made possible fining protest organizer with up to $107,000 in case the protest grow violent was also called the restriction of the freedom of association and expression.