ARTICLE 19 joins Human Constanta, Access Now, and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) in submitting a joint position on the implications of legislation and measures in the areas of countering terrorism and extremism on the enjoyment of human rights in Belarus.
We addressed our submission to Ms. Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus in response to the call for submissions for the 78th session of the General Assembly that will take place in October 2023.
The use of ‘anti-extremism’ laws in Belarus has become a preferred tool deployed by the government to silence dissenters. ‘Anti-extremism’ rules are found all across Belarusian laws and are actively used to clamp down on online and offline speech – persecuting high-profile democratic activists, journalists, human rights defenders, administrators of Telegram chats, authors of protest art.
The security forces interpret any acts of civil disobedience and opposition self-organization as manifestations of ‘extremist’ and ‘terrorist’ activities. Any form of interaction with civil initiatives whose participants do not support the policy of the regime, including fundraising, information transfer, and participation in interviews, was actually outlawed.
Since the beginning of the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the Belarusian authorities have been using ‘anti-extremist’ legislation to repress people who express
an anti-war position, criticise the actions of the Russian authorities and support Ukraine in any format.
The mass repressions by the Belarusian authorities with the use of ‘anti-extremism’ legislation have the character of a targeted full-scale systematic attack on specific groups of the population, in particular on people perceived disloyal by the government and representatives of civil society that amounts to crime against humanity.
The attack in this context is presented in massive violations of human rights, including right to life, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom from torture, right to fair trial, freedom of expression, association, right to privacy and others.
Based on our assessment these violations amount to international crime of persecution.