The Ad Hoc Committee on Belarus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called on the Belarusian authorities to release the opposition activists remaining in prison after being arrested following last year’s presidential election.
In a report released on October 7, the Committee notes that 600 people were arrested in a violent police crackdown on a post-election protest in Minsk on the night of December 19, 2010. The report lists the 63 persons convicted as a consequence of their participation in the protest.
The Committee deplores the fact that six people, including two former presidential candidates, Mikalay Statkevich and Andrey Sannikaw, remain in prison, and urges the authorities of Belarus to release those people immediately and ensure that all convictions are erased from their criminal records.
The Committee also points out to the authorities of Belarus that, under PACE Resolution 1790 (2011), they should "conduct a transparent investigation into the abusive and disproportionate use of force by police […] against the demonstrators."
"PACE will be unable to entertain contacts with the authorities of Belarus as long as all the persons mentioned in the report have not been released from prison and tangible progress has been made towards Council of Europe standards, including freedom of assembly and association," says the press office of the Assembly.