Valiantsin Stefanovich: “Forced labor in Belarus is systemic and systematic”
Human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich has once again written to the Prosecutor's Office of Minsk region to complain about new instances of forced, when employees of several local government-owned enterprises were sent to clean the forest in Lahojsk district.
The letter was sent after the District Prosecutor's Office refused to open a probe into the abuse report.
According to Valiantsin Stefanovich, local executive committees have issued instructions to heads of various state-owned enterprises urging them to send their employees to assist in cleanups.
Earlier, the activist wrote to the Prosecutor's Office of Vilejka district in a similar case of using forced labor for harvesting corn. In both cases, the official replies were carbon-copied, Stefanovich said.
“The District Prosecutor of Lahoijsk refused to investigate the facts described in a publication on tut.by. According to his response, the Prosecutor's Office did not receive any complaints from citizens about forced labor, and my petition was not accompanied by documents certifying the authority to appeal on behalf of others,” Valiantsin Stefanovich writes in his letter to the Prosecutor of Minsk region.
The human rights activist again stresses that did not apply to the District Prosecutor's Office on behalf of some specific people whose rights had been violated, but attempted to highlight media reports about the facts that evidence gross violations of law in the territory of Lahojsk district.
“All the facts that we have learned about lately coming from different districts of the Minsk region indicate that forced labor in Belarus is systemic and systematic. Meanwhile, the prosecuting authorities, in turn, have failed to respond to them, thus evading the protection of the rights of citizens,” Stefanovich said.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" is intended to inform the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights about the system of forced labor practised in the country.