GENEVA (2 July 2019) – The human rights situation in Belarus appears stable and calm but remains fundamentally poor with no significant improvements, a UN expert said today.
Anaïs Marin, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, particularly deplored the lack of progress and political will on the issue of the death penalty.
Marin, in her first report to the Human Rights Council, also highlighted the additional restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom following amendments to the country’s media law. “These measures are clearly intended to intimidate critical voices into self-censorship and prevent them from contributing to public debate,” she said.
The decriminalisation of the activities of unregistered organisations and the simplification of authorisation procedures for mass events were welcome steps, but “abusive restrictions to freedom of association and peaceful assembly remain recurrent”.
The Special Rapporteur paid particular attention to the deplorable conditions of detention of children deprived of their liberty as part of a strict drug policy. “Since under international law, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, I consider the treatment of these children to be of grave concern,” Marin said.
The expert also highlighted ongoing discrimination towards groups such as Roma and members of the LGBTI community.
“The violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms highlighted in my report may appear as less systematic, but they still have a systemic character,” she said. In view of the cyclical nature of human rights violations in Belarus, she called on the Council to be more vigilant ahead of the forthcoming electoral cycle.
The Special Rapporteur welcomed the efforts of the Government to engage in dialogue with civil society and its renewed engagement with United Nations human rights mechanisms. She stressed the need to continue these commitments.
As Belarus does not recognise her mandate, Marin could not visit the country. However, she reiterated her readiness to engage in a dialogue with the authorities, if it leads to concrete improvements in the protection and promotion of human rights.
Ms. Anaïs Marin (France) was designated as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. She is a researcher with the University of Warsaw, Poland. A political scientist specialized in international relations and Russian studies, she holds a PhD from Sciences Po, where she studied international public law and comparative politics with a focus on post-communist transformations in Central and Eastern Europe. As a Belarus expert, she cooperated with several European think tanks and contributed analytical reports and policy recommendations for various governments as well as structures, such as the European Parliament and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. She took part in OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions, including in Belarus. She has published extensively on Belarusian domestic and foreign policies.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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