Statement by UN Watch

ID on Belarus, 32nd Session, UNHRC, 21 June, 2016

Delivered by Ms. Mara Gnos
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Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch is deeply concerned by the situation of human rights in Belarus. We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report, which conveys the prevailing climate of censorship and fear in that country.

We wish to address two issues of particular concern.

First, UN Watch notes that for two decades the Parliament of Belarus has had no political opposition, and that is has no effective competence to legislate, since the president rules by decree.

In this regard, UN Watch urges the Government of Belarus to heed the repeated calls of this Council and ensure that the parliamentary elections in September 2016 are free and fair; that opposition political parties will have the right to win seats; and that the government will cease to rule by decree.

Second, as noted in the report of the Special Rapporteur, ordinary citizens have not seen any improvement in their ability to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly, expression or association, which remain arbitrarily restricted and subject to the whim of the Government.

The current situation, in which the Government exercises full control over public life, is alarming. Civic organizations, human rights defenders, political parties and unions are unable to carry out their activities without fear of reprisal, judicial harassment, intimidation or arbitrary detention.

In this regard, UN Watch urges the Government of Belarus to release political prisoner Mikhail Zhamchuzhny, founder of the human rights organization Platform Innovation, who faces six-and-a-half years in prison, and to guarantee the civil and political rights of all former political prisoners.

Mr. President, we would like to ask the Special Rapporteur: How can the international community help establish basic human rights in Belarus, and bring to an end this intolerable state of affairs?

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

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