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Testimony at the UN

UN Watch Statement
Individual ID with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus
29th Session, UNHRC

Delivered by Ms. Nikoleta Alexopoulou

Thank you, Mr. President. UN Watch wishes to thank the Special Rapporteur for his valuable report, which documents an alarming pattern of persistent violations of human rights by the Government of Belarus.

These abuses include oppression of political dissenters, torture of prisoners and a judicial system that lacks independence. Sadly, virtually zero progress has been made since we all met here to discuss Belarus last year. Instead, the report finds a dangerous combination of restrictive laws and abusive practices, which amount to a systematic denial of basic human rights.

Belarus is fast approaching a new presidential election in November. Regrettably, for the past 20 years, the country has been ruled by a government that engages systematically in the silencing of dissenting voices.

For example, one of the country’s leading human rights defenders, Ales Bialiatski, wad put behind bars in August 2011, on trumped up charges. For 1,052 days, he was deprived of his liberty, subjected to psychological and physical pressure, and to arbitrary forms of disciplinary punishment. Only after worldwide protests, and a condemnation of his arrest by this Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, was finally released last year.

The case of Mr. Bialiatsky is hardly unique. In May 2014, 37 other activists were arrested by the government, on decidedly frivolous grounds.

Mr. President, UN Watch remains deeply concerned about the grave situation of human rights in Belarus, and, once again, we urge the government to comply with the recommendations in today’s report.

Given the total absence of accountability mechanisms, we ask the Special Rapporteur: Would the creation of a Commission of Inquiry into the situation of human rights in Belarus help advance the cause of human rights and justice for its long-suffering population?

Thank you, Mr. President.

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