Viasna welcomes release of political prisoners and calls for further steps to improve human rights situation in Belarus
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" welcomes the release of six political prisoners – Mikalai Statkevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Ihar Alinevich, Yauhen Vaskovich, Artsiom Prakapenka and Yury Rubtsou, and calls on the Belarusian authorities to take more steps in order to improve the situation in the field of fundamental civil and political rights, said Valiantsin Stefanovich, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna".
"Both the Belarusian and the international human rights community, as well as the EU and the United States have for a long time demanded the release of political prisoners. The Human Rights Center "Viasna" welcomes this step of the Belarusian authorities, but stresses that not all political prisoners have been released today. We should not forget about the three young men who, in our opinion, were wrongly detained and are being held in the Minsk-based detention center No. 1. We view their groundless persecution as politically motivated harassment. Apart from that, we would like to hope that the release of the six political prisoners will be the first step towards improving the human rights situation in Belarus,” said the human rights activist.
According to Stefanovich, the repressive mechanism, which has been developed by the state, the repressive laws and practices still remain unchanged. As an example, he cited the persecution of freelance journalists, the presence of legal acts that are directly contrary to international standards of human rights, e.g. criminal article 193-1 providing for responsibility for activity on behalf of an unregistered organization.
“Such a situation allows the emergence of new political prisoners. It is therefore very important that more steps were taken to improve the situation with the basic civil and political rights – freedom of speech, freedom to receive and disseminate information, freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of conscience, and so on,” says the human rights defender.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" calls on the Belarusian authorities to take these steps, he stressed.