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55th regular session UN Human Rights Council

Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the High commissioner's report on the situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath

Human Rights Watch Oral Statement

19 March 2024

Mr. President,   

We thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its latest report on the human rights situation in Belarus.

Over the past year, Belarusian authorities have continued their “purge” of independent voices prosecuting and harassing human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians, protesters, and activists.

Hundreds remain behind bars on politically motivated charges and face ill-treatment in detention; some are being held in incommunicado detention.

Five human rights defenders from Viasna remain imprisoned. Authorities have continued to crack down on human rights lawyers in retaliation for representing clients in politically motivated cases. No rights organization is currently able to operate legally in Belarus.

At the same time, open data suggests that Belarusian authorities have facilitated the illegal forcible transfer of over 2,000 Ukrainian children from Russia-occupied territories in Ukraine to Belarus.

Mr. President,

The Office’s conclusion that grave human rights violations committed since 2020 in Belarus may amount to crimes against humanity requires a robust response from the international community, particularly in a context where there is no meaningful avenue to justice at the national level, and human rights work has effectively been outlawed. Human Rights Watch appeals to all states to support the important resolution under consideration this session, to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and further develop and expand the vital work carried out by the OHCHR Examination to date through a dedicated mechanism.

Thank you.

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