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UN Experts Call For Immediate Release Of Jailed Nobel Winner And Other Rights Defenders In Belarus

GENEVA (10 October 2022) - UN experts* today reiterated calls for the release of Ales Bialiatski after the Nobel Committee’s decision to symbolically award him the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize for his fearless work promoting human rights in Belarus.

Ales Bialiatski founded the Belarus human rights group Viasna or “spring” in 1996. Bialiatsky was first jailed in 2011 and, in 2021, he was detained again without charge. Several of Bialiatsky’s Viasna colleagues also remain behind bars.

“There is a serious accountability gap for gross violations of human rights law in Belarus, and we welcome the solidarity of the international community and all efforts based on international law to persist in seeking justice,” the experts said.

The UN experts have raised concerns about Bialiatski’s arbitrary detention since 14 July 2021, calling it part of an unfolding policy to silence human rights defenders and eradicate the civic space in Belarus.

The experts reminded Belarusian authorities of their obligations to uphold human rights and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders detained on politically motivated grounds.

“We are dismayed at the ongoing arbitrary detention of Ales Bialiatski and the new charges which entail a sentence of up to 12 years in prison, brought against him for legitimate human rights work,” the experts said.

“Long prison sentences handed down to human rights defenders are emblematic of the abuse of the justice system and the impunity with which Belarusian authorities act,” the experts said.

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The experts: Ms. Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

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