It is time for Belarus to demonstrate that it respects minimal international standards

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Statement by UN Watch
UPR Report on Belarus
Agenda Item 6, UNHRC 30th Session
24 September 2015

Delivered by Mr. Samuel Talalay


Thank you, Mr. President.
UN Watch is deeply concerned by the situation of human rights in Belarus, as reflected in today’s report. We address three areas of particular concern.
First, UN Watch welcomes the release, on August 22nd, of six political prisoners, including 2010 presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich. Yet we note the cynical timing of these pardons, coming two months before the October elections and, tellingly, one day after the deadline for presidential candidacies.
In this regard, UN Watch strongly supports the calls made by Australia, Canada, Norway, the Czech Republic, Poland and others for Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners. We regret to learn that Belarus has rejected each of these recommendations.
Second, we condemn the suppression of basic freedoms in an ever-shrinking democratic space. The prosecution of freelance journalists who write for media outlets based outside the country, under Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, underscores why France rightly called for Belarus to remove all obstacles to freedom of the press, and to put an end to the harassment of journalists. Sadly, Belarus has rejected this recommendation as well.
Finally, we deplore the continued use of torture in Belarus. Vasily Yuzepchuk was tortured into confession before his execution in 2010, as were Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzslau Kavalyou in 2012. Meanwhile, Belarus continues to reject the calls by numerous states that it ratify the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture.
Mr. President, recent gestures are welcome but far from sufficient. It is time for Belarus to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the country, as recommended by France, Norway, Korea, and others. We urge Belarus to reconsider its rejection of this recommendation.
It is time for Belarus to demonstrate that it respects minimal international standards — and the human rights of its own people.
Thank you, Mr. President.