20th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Report of High Commissioner on Belarus
Interactive Dialogue 27 June 2012
Remaks delivered by Renate Bloem, CIVICUS UN Geneva Representative
Thank you Mme President
Mme High Commissioner, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcomes your comprehensive report. The human rights situation in Belarus has deteriorated since the adoption of resolution 17/24 in June 2011. CIVICUS is deeply concerned about the situation of human rights defenders, particularly those held in detention. We urge Belarus immediately and unconditionally to release all political prisoners in Belarus, including human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, held on trumped up charges, and on whom most recently new and unlawful restrictive measures have been imposed to worsen his condition.
We regret to hear about numerous other cases of torture and humiliating verbal and physical abuses in overcrowded prisons, particularly in pre-trial detention. CIVICUS raises awareness that, to date, Belarus has not criminalised torture and has not signed and ratified the Optional Protocol that provides preventive measures and allows independent international and national bodies to undertake visits to the country.
CIVICUS is also very concerned about amendments to various already restrictive laws adopted on 21 October 2011 to introduce even more severe barriers for NGO activities, as underlined in your report. Belarus violates the rights of its citizens to peaceful assembly and association through further repression of human rights activists.
Belarus still executes the death penalty for certain crimes, but in a very cruel and opaque manner. Relatives of accused people do not know about the fate of those who have been executed, since executions are held secretly, with death certificates being sent months after execution, with no date of death nor indication of burial place.
Above all, we regret the complete non-attention to and implementation of the recommendations made by your Deputy, Mme High Commissioner, following the first oral report to the 18th session of the Council.
We therefore fully support your recommendations now and, in cooperation with Belarusian civil society, call for effective measures to address the systemic nature of deficiencies pertaining to human rights. We believe that time has come for a country-specific mandate that would help national human rights organisations to take action, build stronger civil society and thus help Belarus in its future development.
Thank you for your attention