Updated at 19:48,25-10-2020

Lack of freedoms shapes lives of several generations in Belarus – UN Special Rapporteur


The human rights situation in Belarus has not changed for the best: suppression of any dissent and a lack of rule of law is still systematic, Miklos Haraszti , UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, states. On June 25, presented his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The impact of the powers amassed by the President who has been in office for a quarter century, the lack of independence of the judiciary, and rigged elections, should make the international community vigilantly watch the forthcoming elections in 2019 and 2020,” Mr. Haraszti stressed in his 23-page report.

The authorities are against their own people: the standoff has been lasting for almost 25 years. And there are no prerequisites for any rapid improvements, he stated.

“The authorities have established a permanent state of intimidation through their oppressive laws and policies, and regularly resort to large-scale violence by law enforcement officials,” the document reads.

The effects of the continuous application of an oppressive regulatory and punitive framework were aggravated by recurring violent crackdowns on those exercising the right to peaceful assembly; new amendments to media laws threaten further harsh restrictions to freedom of expression online.

“The changes would remove the remnants of free expression online, after decades of absence of that freedom in the print and broadcast media,” Haraszti warned.

This year alone, Belsat TV contributors have been held liable for work without accreditation over 50 times, and the fines imposed on them have totalled to BYN 42,000. But it is not the only issue we have. Miklos Haraszti draws the UN’s attention to problems of the judicial system as a whole and fabricated accusations in particular. The UN rapporteur also expressed concern about electoral fraud and the death penalty in Belarus.

“Take no notice of them. You need not worry about the EU’s or the US Department of State’s statements. Making statements is their job,” Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said a few months ago.

But Haraszti reiterates that violations of democratic rights cast a shadow first and foremost on the economy and culture, and therefore affect the society as a whole.

“As long as there is Lukashenka’s regime in Belarus, Haraszti will be making his reports. Lukashenka’s regime is directly linked to the Kremling which supports it, because the same regime exists in Russia,” poet and former political prisoner Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu stressed.

There are still political prisoners in the country – Zmitser Paliyenka and Mikhail Zhamchuzhny. At the same time,, attention is paid to the rights of all prisoners. According to Raisa Mikhailouskaya, a representative of the Belarusian Documentation Centre, many cases of torture and prison administration abuse have been reported. .

So why don’t the authorities listen to domestic and international human rights defenders and stop police violence and political persecution?

“But it is violence and persecution that the regime has been living by! As soon as they ease the pressure on those who do not agree to live in such conditions, it will immediately fall,” Nyaklyayeu believes.

There are some prerequisites for that is already there, the politician said referring to defending Kurapaty. But as long as the Belarusian authorities continue to ignore human rights defenders’ claims and recommendations, there will be no escape from old problems. The Special Rapporteur is urging the Human Rights Council to continue the mandate because the country’s leadership shows no sign of stopping its oppression of the rights and freedoms of its citizens.