HRDs to present alternative report at 63rd session of the UN Committee against Torture Video
On 27 April, the Republic of Belarus will present its report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment at the 63rd session of the UN Committee against Torture. Since the ratification of the Convention in 1987, the country has reported to the Committee for five times.
Traditionally, on the eve of the government’s report, representatives of the country’s non-governmental human rights organizations present an alternative report. The hearing will be held at a briefing in Geneva on April 26.
The alternative report was prepared by the initiative "Human Rights Defenders against Torture", in collaboration with the NGO "Legal Initiative", the Belarusian Documentation Center, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Human Rights Center "Viasna", with the support from Freedom House and FIDH.
The hearing will be feature experts and human rights defenders Pavel Levinau (BHC), Raisa Mikhailouskaya (BDC), Pavel Sapelka (HRC "Viasna") and Viktoryia Fiodarava (Legal Initiative).
Valiantsin Stefanovich, member of the Board of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", notes the absence of effective mechanisms for combating torture in the country:
“In particular, it is absence in criminal law of explicit charges for all actions qualified as torture and other cruel treatment, lack of effective co-operation with international organizations and bodies, as well as the extreme dependence of the judiciary and the legal profession on the executive. After all, freedom from torture is an absolute right and is not subject to any restrictions,” the activist said.
According to Pavel Sapelka, an important priority step is the recognition of the competence of the UN Committee against Torture in its consideration of the claims of breach of the country’s obligations under Articles 21 and 22 of the Convention against Torture.
"In addition, it is essential to fix progress in Belarus’s relations with the UN by sending an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on torture and recognizing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus. So far, neither has visited the country officially,” Sapelka said.
On April 30, the official representatives of Belarus will answer questions from the UN Committee against Torture.