Belarusian civil society organizations are courageously speaking out—calling on UN member states to reject Belarus' bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. A statement by relatives of political prisoners is below....
We state the following:
- The Republic of Belarus currently shows disdain for the values of human rights and violates the international obligations to which it has committed in this area: in particular, the Republic of Belarus does not submit regular reports on the human rights situation in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and also ignores the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee on specific violations of the rights of citizens of Belarus. Furthermore, the government of Belarus prevents Belarusian society from learning about the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee, which also violates the international obligations to which it has committed.
- There is no independent judiciary system in Belarus, and all agencies of judicial authority are under the direct control of the executive branch.
- Belarus has political prisoners – Aleksandr Kozulin, the Gramada social democratic party candidate in the 2006 elections; political figures Andrei Klimov and Nikolai Statkevich; leaders of the Molodoi Front youth movement Pavel Severinets, Artur Finkevich, Dmitry Dashkevich; the human rights activist Yekaterina Sadovskaya; the youth activist Anton Kishkurno; businessmen Yury Leonov and Nikolai Avtukhovich – are all behind bars. Nikolai Astreiko, the leader of the Partnerstvo [Partnership] Citizen’s Initiative, is serving the second year of his sentence.
All Belarusian political prisoners were tried for political reasons. They were all deprived of their right to a fair trial by an independent, impartial court. Most of their trials were closed to the public.
Considering the above, we believe that the current human rights situation within Belarus makes it impossible for representatives of Belarus to serve on the UN Human Rights Council. Electing a representative of Belarus to the UN Human Rights Council will mean a devaluation of this body and will make it impossible for the Council to carry out the role of protecting the human rights and freedoms entrusted to it.
We call upon the international community to refrain from including representatives of Belarus on the UN Human Rights Council until such time as the government of Belarus is able to demonstrate a true striving to adhere to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
[Signed by seven relatives of political prisoners]