The European Union's foreign ministers agreed at their meeting on Monday to broaden the criteria for imposing "restrictive measures" on Belarusian persons and entities in response to human rights abuse and the persecution of the government's political opponents.
"The paves the way for future designations of those responsible for serious human rights violations or the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition or supporting or benefiting from the Lukashenka regime", said the press office of the Council of the European Union following the meeting.
"Decisions to add persons and entities to the list of those targeted can be taken in the wake of this Council decision", the press office said.
Gunnar Wiegand, of the EU’s European External Action Service, said earlier this month that the EU considered adding 135 more people to the bloc’s existing travel ban and asset-freeze list that currently targets more than 200 Belarusians.
He expressed hope that the EU member states would reach agreement on the matter in the next few weeks.
On January 31, 2011, the EU Council imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 156 Belarusian government officials and other individuals for their role in "the violations of international electoral standards" in the December 14-19, 2010 presidential election and a post-election crackdown on civil society and pro-democratic supporters. The Council blacklisted 19 more Belarusians in March, 13 in May, four in June and 16 in October, placing on the list mostly judges and prosecutors involved in the prosecution of post-election protesters. In December, it added the judge and the prosecutor in the trial of prominent human rights defender Ales Byalyatski to the list.