It is time for Belarus to release all political prisoners

UN Watch Statement

Human Rights Council, 26th session

ID with SR on Belarus

18 June 2014

Delivered by Benjamin Fogel

Thank you, Mr. President.
UN Watch commends the important work of the Special Rapporteur. His report on the situation in Belarus documents a system rife with injustice, and bereft of basic human rights.
We are concerned in particular with the repression of political freedom, false imprisonment and the absence of an independent judiciary.
A person in Belarus can be sent to jail for simply speaking out and criticizing or disagreeing with the government. Activists, journalists and community leaders cannot speak freely without fear of reprisal.
As noted by the Special Rapporteur, Belarus has failed to guarantee its people the right to vote, or the right to be elected at genuine periodic elections.
International monitors found that this year’s elections in Belarus were neither free nor fair. In nearly 90 percent of elections, candidates ran unopposed. And in several districts, there were no elections at all. After the last presidential election, seven candidates were arrested, three were attacked, and three more were imprisoned without a fair trial.
Political prisoners continue to be held in detention. There are credible accounts of physical, psychological and degrading torture in state prisons. Several prisoners have died under suspicious circumstances. The lack of progress in the investigations into the murders of more than a dozen journalists and opposition politicians over the last two decades is alarming.
And yet Belarus remains in denial. The government ignores the Special Rapporteur’s requests to visit, and it disregards the recommendations and requests of UN human rights mechanisms.
Mr. President, it is time for Belarus to heed the appeals of the international community. It is time for Belarus to release all political prisoners. It is time for Belarus to turn away from repression, and instead to embrace the rule of law.
This is what international law requires, and this is what the people of Belarus deserve.
Thank you, Mr. President.


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