United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has voiced deep concern over the Belarus government's harsh sentencing of an activist.
Vasil Parfyankou was sentenced to four years in prison following his conviction of having taken part in mass protests after the 2010 Belarus presidential election, according to a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday.
"The prosecution and sentencing are particularly troubling given that he, together with dozens of other opposition activists, is facing trial for exercising his right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression," said Pillay.
She said there are "serious human rights violations" regarding the "continued detention of political opponents," and the length and conditions of pre-trial detention in Belarus do not comply with the standards stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"I have stressed before to the Belarus Government and I shall say it again: States have a duty to protect human rights defenders, journalists and civil society from threats, retaliation or pressure stemming from the legitimate exercise of their work in defense of human rights," she added.
Parfyankou, who was an activist in presidential candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu's election team, was among those detained following the protests' crackdown which took place after the December 19 presidential election in Belarus.
The election, which resulted in Alexander Lukashenko take office for the fourth time, saw an eruption of opposition protests, in which demonstrators broke windows at the House of Government in the country's capital, Minsk.
Lukashenko, who obtained 79.6 percent of the votes, faced allegations that he had rigged the election.
Several opposition candidates and over 600 demonstrators were arrested in the wake of the post-election protests, during which the crowds clashed with anti-riot police.