UN Special Rapporteur prepares report on Belarus

The author of the report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, notes that “the situation of suppression of the rights and freedoms of citizens” persists in Belarus.

The document analyzed the period from April 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. The report emphasizes that the Belarusian authorities did not take the path of correction and continue to systematically violate the rights of Belarusian citizens.

“For the six years after the Human Rights Council established the mandate of the special rapporteur, life in Belarus was regulated by a purposefully repressive legal framework. This was accompanied by regular centralized, planned repressions with violence against peaceful demonstrators, non-governmental organizations, political opponents, human rights defenders and employees of independent media,” the report says.

It is also noted that the authorities continue to use the practice of imprisoning political opponents on trumped-up charges. Haraszti drew attention to the fact that the death penalty is still applied in Belarus.

The report examines the problems of the right to peaceful assembly. Haraszti recalls the events of last spring and the obstacles to holding peaceful assemblies this year. Mention is made of mass detentions that occurred during the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the BNR.

Haraszti attaches a lot of attention to the situation with freedom of speech. He is very concerned with the prepared changes in the legislation concerning the mass media.

“In case of final adoption, these amendments will lead to an even greater restriction of freedom of expression and freedom of information for all citizens, reinforcing the obstacles and persecution faced by Belarusian independent journalists and persons posting materials on Internet resources,” the report says.

Miklos Haraszti has repeatedly called on the authorities to repeal article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, according to which independent journalists are tried. The Special Rapporteur drew attention to the fact that in 2017 journalists were fined 69 times, in total they had to pay more than 25 thousand euros, which exceeds the amount of fines for the past three years.

“Journalists of Belsat are a constant target for the authorities. It is unlikely that during the reporting period there is a month when a Belsat journalists was not detained or fined and his eqipment seized,” the document stressed.

Also, the report highlights the case of the beating of our journalist Andrei Kozel at the polling station in Minsk. Then the policemen knocked the door with Andrei’s head, and then they fined him.

At the end of the document, the Special Rapporteur recommends that Belarus released all political prisoners, stopped the harassment of independent journalists, ensured the independence of the judiciary, introduced a moratorium on the death penalty, revised the Electoral Code and granted citizens the right to peaceful assembly.

This report will be presented on June 25 at the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.