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New UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus calls for dialogue with Government and civil society

GENEVA (1st November 2012) – The new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, today called on the Government and civil society of Belarus to engage in an open dialogue with him aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

“I would like to invite the Belarusian authorities, state institutions and civil society to enter into an open dialogue with me on human rights issues confronting the country,” said Mr. Haraszti, who assumed today his mandate by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on Belarus.

“In my professional life, I had several opportunities to constructively cooperate with the Government and civil society of Belarus. This experience fills me with hope that the mandate will be used by all stakeholders as a good opportunity to effectively address human rights concerns in Belarus,” he said.

As a first step, the human rights expert will seek a meeting with the Belarusian Government to discuss ways to exchange information necessary to facilitate the fulfilment of his mandate. “Open channels of communication and dialogue with the authorities, as well as all relevant stakeholders, are necessary in order to ensure the accuracy of the reports that I am mandated to present to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly next year,” Mr. Haraszti stressed.

“I hope to assist the Government and people of Belarus in improving the human rights situation in the country in line with international human rights norms,” the new Special Rapporteur said.

The United Nations Human Rights Council established the mandate of Special Rapporteur on Belarus in March 2012 (resolution 20/13), for an initial period of one year. As a Special Rapporteur, Miklós Haraszti (Hungary) is independent of any government or organisation, and serves in his individual capacity. In the 1970s, Mr. Haraszti was a founder of Hungary’s human rights and free press movement, and in the 1990s he was a Member of the Hungarian Parliament. From 2004 to 2010, he served as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Since 2010, he has been a Professor at several universities teaching media democratisation.

UN Human Rights, country page – Belarus: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/BYIndex.aspx

For more information and media inquiries, please contact Fiona Frazer (+41 22 928 9336 / ffrazer@ohchr.org) or write to sr-belarus@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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