HRC: interim oral update on the situation in Belarus

HRC: interim oral update on the situation in Belarus - Civic Space

The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, formerly Room XX, of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

ARTICLE 19 and Human Constanta’s full statement during the HRC interim oral update on Belarus pursuant to Council resolution 45/1.

 

I make this statement on behalf of ARTICLE 19 and Human Constanta.

 

The human rights situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate in the aftermath of the presidential election. More than 30,000 protesters have been detained. There’s been approximately 4,000 allegations of use of force, including torture. Although not a single criminal case has been opened concerning human rights violations by law enforcement officers, more than 900 criminal cases have been brought against political opponents, journalists, protesters and their defenders.

We’re monitoring a growing use of anti-extremism legislation for prosecuting dissent. The popular Telegram channel NEXTA was addto the list of “extremist” materials. The decision was issued without public scrutiny, entered into force immediately, and there is no mechanism for appealing such decisions. 

The government continues to disrupt the Internet connection during protests. Despite this being in breach of the international human rights standards, providers comply with such decisions. Access to 72 websites, including independent media and human rights organisations, remains blocked. In addition, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers are under growing pressure as criminal cases are brought against them, students are expelled from universities, medical workers, artists and sportsmen are being detained and intimidated for expressing their opinion.

Belarus must be directly urged to immediately lift all restrictions in law and practice on the right to freedom of expression, cease the harassment and arbitrary detention and release all political prisoners.