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UN rights body should renew investigation mandate on Belarus

HRW Statement - Item 4 ID on High Commissioner's report on Belarus - HRC49

In The Hague, Netherlands, on August 7, a demonstrator holds a placard showing the names of some of those arbitrarily detained in Belarus for protesting against President Alexander Lukashenko, and calling for their release. © 2021 Charles M Vella / SOPA Images/Sipa via AP Images

We thank the High Commissioner for her extremely important report documenting gross human rights violations in Belarus, including systematic torture and ill-treatment of those arbitrarily detained during peaceful mass protests in Belarus. 

The report underlines Belarus’s failure to investigate the rights violations and the lack of respect for due process and fair trial rights. This remains very relevant today, when the scale of repressions has significantly escalated.

In February this year, the number of persons in prison on politically motivated grounds passed the grim threshold of 1000. Just this week, editor-in-chief of the independent outlet “Nasha Niva” Yahor Martsinovich and the head of its marketing department, Andrei Skurko, were sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for the outlet’s independent reporting. Human rights defenders, including seven members of the prominent human rights organization Viasna, journalists and activists remain behind bars in retaliation for their work. 

Since the full-scale war started in Ukraine, Belarusian authorities detained hundreds of peaceful anti-war protesters, at times using excessive force. 

These persistent violations are rooted in the lack of accountability for violations committed in the summer of 2020 and that developed into a crisis that continues to this day. With no effective remedies available domestically, the High Commissioner’s examination serves as one of the only viable pathways to accountability for the egregious abuses and violations identified in the report, the need for which remains acute today. We therefore express our very strong support for the extension of the mandate of the examination.

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