Belarus human rights record “devastating”
Belarus human rights record “devastating” as president tightens grip on power – UN expert
NEW YORK (27 October 2017) – Belarus has a “devastating” record on human rights which has worsened over two decades as the president has consolidated his grip on absolute power, a UN human rights expert has told the General Assembly in New York.
“The merger of all powers in the hands of the president is both the origin and the purpose of the country’s depressing state of human rights,” said Miklós Haraszti, Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus.
“The Government of Belarus returned this year to mass oppression of those who protested against its policies. The reasons for the cyclical character of violent crackdowns lie in a governing system which is singlehandedly directed by the president, incumbent for a quarter of a century.
“Human rights have fallen prey to the maintenance of a state structure set up for the purpose of protecting his power. The result is the devastating human rights situation we see today.”
Belarus had constantly tightened its permission-based regime and the criminalization of unregistered activities, a policy which had not relented over the past two decades, the Special Rapporteur said.
“This policy has managed to reduce occurrence of movements for change, but could not fully eradicate citizens’ attempts at exercising their rights. It is in these instances, such as in 2010 and 2017, when mass repression was used to restore fearful silence,” said Mr. Haraszti.
“The absence of any meaningful progress should mobilize the partners of Belarus to continue monitoring the state of human rights and pressure those in power in Minsk to start reviewing oppressive policies.”
A violent crackdown and mass arrests targeting peaceful demonstrators in March had mirrored the events that led to the creation of his mandate, demonstrating the lack of change in the country’s repeating pattern of repression, Mr Haraszti reminded. As in 2010, political opponents had been arrested and charged with made-up crimes, he added.
Belarus’ so-called human rights action plan would make no difference to the overall situation, the Special Rapporteur said, as it envisaged no concrete action and disregarded the repeated recommendations of UN human rights bodies and procedures for ways to improve civil and political rights.
Mr. Haraszti paid tribute to civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Belarus for continuing their work despite criminalization, detention and constant harassment.