Belarus adopts plan to implement UN recommendations on human rights
The Council of Ministers has adopted an interagency action plan to implement recommendations made within the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), BelaPAN said.
The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism established within the framework of the United Nations to determine the human rights situation in all countries of the world, the degree of implementation by the governments of the entire spectrum of human rights: economic, political, social, civic and cultural. Countries pass the review process every four and a half years and receive from the UN Human Rights Council recommendations to improve the situation.
The Interagency Plan to implement the UPR recommendations in 2016-2019 is called a ‘policy paper’ aimed to ‘promote the implementation of international commitments undertaken by Belarus in the field of human rights, including the improvement of legislation and law enforcement’.
The plan includes a number of events, in particular:
- continuation of a comprehensive study of the feasibility of establishing in Belarus of a national human rights institution;
- audit of the work of public advisory boards at the national executive bodies in order to improve the transparency of their activities;
- cooperation with the UN Human Rights Committee within the individual communications procedure under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966;
- analysis of most typical claims submitted by Belarusian citizens to the UN Human Rights Committee, as well as views adopted by the Committee, in order to improve legislation and law enforcement practice in this area;
- conducting awareness-raising campaigns aimed at prevention of domestic violence;
- study of international experience to provide audio or video recording of interrogations in the territorial bodies of internal affairs and pre-trial detention as a means of preventing torture and ill-treatment, consideration of the appropriateness of such measures in Belarus;
- carrying out activities for a comprehensive review of international trends in the issue of the death penalty and public opinion on the subject;
- continuation of cooperation with the OSCE on the improvement of the electoral process in Belarus, as well as a number of other activities in various fields.
Belarusian human rights activists welcome the adoption of the paper, but believe that it lacks details and is unlikely to radically change the situation.
“The plan mainly says about ‘continuing to research’ and the ‘feasibility of establishing or application’. It is not clear what they want to get in the end. And it's a drawback,” Aleh Hulak, leader of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, said in his comment to BelaPAN.
Among the advantages of the document, according to him, is the indication of the state bodies responsible for the implementation of specific activities.
“It also provides for annual reporting on their implementation, but it is not clear yet whether these reports will be public. We will demand that in the implementation of the plan responsible authorities should make a clear procedure for discussion and proposals, and - most importantly - that the outcome of these discussions should be published,” Hulak said.
Valiantsin Stefanovich stressed that Viasna’s activists were not invited to discuss the plan.
“Although we were actively involved in the preparation of the alternative report to the UPR and recommendations,” he added.
The human rights activist also pointed out the vague wording of the plan.
“For example, it mentions continuing to study the feasibility of the introduction of the post of an Ombudsman. That is, not introducing the post, but only continuing the discussion. Those recommendations, which we have developed in the preparation of the alternative report, were not included. The most fundamental thing were omitted,” he stressed.
According to him, by adopting the plan, the authorities’ want to demonstrate its engagement with the UN.
“Although the government does not fully interact with UN mechanisms. Decisions of the Human Rights Committee are not fulfilled, there were delays in the submission of reports to the UN Committees, the UN special rapporteur on Belarus is not allowed to visit the country, the government does not cooperate with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. But the UPR mechanism is acceptable to them, as it is common to all countries and not only selective for Belarus,” the human rights activist said.