Annual Report of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: undue pressure against Belarus’ civil society and independent media continues

“In 2010-2011, the working environment of human rights defenders remained very restrictive and the situation deteriorated after the December elections. Several organisations were still denied legal status. Searches and confiscation of property were conducted by the police. Peaceful assemblies were also banned, leading to the arrest and judicial harassment of human rights defenders. Several foreign human rights defenders were also prevented from entering the country,” says the summary to the section on Belarus.

The Observatory criticizes the Belarusian government for “exerting undue pressure against civil society and independent media”. “The situation deteriorated dramatically following the presidential elections on December 19, 2010, when . . . dozens of human rights defenders, including those not directly involved in election monitoring, were submitted to pressure from the authorities, including searches and interrogations by KGB officers in relation to criminal investigations on ‘participation in mass unrest and organisation of mass unrest’ and ‘disorderly conduct’ opened in the aftermath of the demonstration on the electoral results. Harassment against human rights defenders continued in January 2011. Dozens of human rights defenders were interrogated as witnesses, their homes and offices searched and some material or equipment confiscated, in particular, photos, videos, computers and SIM cards, in the framework of the criminal investigations that followed the December 19 elections,” says the Report.

The full text of the Annual Report can be downloaded here

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