U.S. Department of State published the critical report on situation in Belarus
Yesterday, U.S. Department of State released its annual report on human rights in the world in 2011. Part of the report devoted to Belarus, which in the document called "an authoritarian state", contains very critical evaluations.
The document was presented in Washington State by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She noted, inter alia, "the world changed immeasurably over the course of 2011". In this context she particularly emphasized the political developments in North Africa and in the Middle East, where "citizens stood up to demand respect for human dignity, more promising economic opportunities, greater political liberties".
We bring to your attention the preamble of the report's Belarusian section with some abbreviations:
The most significant human rights problems continued to be the inability of citizens to change their government; a system bereft of checks and balances in which authorities committed frequent, serious abuses; and the government’s politically motivated imprisonments of hundreds of people during the year. Additionally, the government failed to account for past politically motivated disappearances.
Other human rights problems included abuses by security forces, which beat detainees and protesters, used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrators, and reportedly used torture and/or maltreatment during investigations and in prisons. Prison conditions remained extremely poor.
Authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained, and imprisoned citizens for criticizing officials, for participating in demonstrations, and for other political reasons.
The judiciary lacked independence, and suffered from inefficiency and political interference; trial outcomes often were predetermined, and many trials were conducted behind closed doors or in absentia.
Authorities continued to infringe on citizens’ privacy rights. The government further restricted civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government seized printed materials from civil society activists and prevented independent media from disseminating information and materials.
The government continued to hinder or prevent the activities of some religious groups, at times fining them or restricting their services. Authorities harassed human rights groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and political parties, refusing to register many and then threatening them with criminal prosecution for operating without registration.
Official corruption in all branches of government remained a problem. Violence and discrimination against women were problems, as was violence against children. Trafficking in persons remained a significant problem. There was discrimination against persons with disabilities, Roma, ethnic and sexual minorities, persons with HIV/AIDS, and those who sought to use the Belarusian language.
Authorities harassed and at times dismissed members of independent unions, severely limiting the ability of workers to form and join independent trade unions and to organize and bargain collectively.
Authorities at all levels operated with impunity, and failed to take steps to prosecute or punish officials in the government or security forces who committed human rights abuses.
Political analyst Yury Chavusau: "As soon as these reports are regular and comprehensive, they are a very authoritative source on the actual situation of human rights in all parts of the world completely. And the fact, they are prepared for many years, allows us to see the situation in dynamics. In a sense, - this is one of the most authoritative source of information about the state of human rights in the world. Factual content, of course, is no doubt. We can note the traditional existence in the Belarusian part of the report of the problems that are traditionally associated with the human rights situation in Belarus. This is the problem of disappeared politicians, traditionally the report begins with this topic. Also traditionally, the subject of freedom of assembly are touched upon, arbitrary detentions, violations of the right to a fair trial. But some new aspects should be noted too. For example, apparently, in connection with the attention which appered within Belarus to the subject of tortures in prisons and in general the status of persons in detention, much attention has been given in the report to the problem. Compared with other years, much attention is paid to academic topics and issues of cultural inability to work in Belarus and the impossibility of education in Belarusian language. This report can be a useful source for foreign experts, dealing with the problem of human rights in Belarus".
Chairman of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka: "This is a mirror of the current situation. To look there - and to see today's Belarus. Unfortunately, this is repeated from year to year, this is what we have. Estimates, incorporated in the report, coincide with our analysis, with the analysis of Belarusian human rights defenders. That's how we live, where an active part of society lives in. In fact, power is concentrated in one hand, the complete absence of political competition. Intimidation not only of activists, but also, in the specific cases, of other citizens too; complete absence of independent state power branches. So here, if the authorities were a little bit self-critical, then it would have to admit this is the truth".