ZimRights Statement on the imprisonment of FIDH Vice President



HARARE, November 25, 2011. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) joins the global human rights defenders community in strongly condemning the false trial, conviction and sentencing to prison of Mr. Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President and President of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Viasna”.

“We are all too familiar with repressive regimes that subvert the law and legal systems to persecute human rights defenders. Belarus is one such country” said that the Executive Director of ZIMRIGHTS Mr. Okay Machisa.

Ales Bialiatski was convicted by the Pervomaiski District Court of Minsk on spurious and flimsy charges related to tax evasion and sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment with hard labour.

ZIMRIGHTS agrees with the The Observatory that the trial and detention of Mr. Ales Bialiatski, held since August 4, 2011 at the preventive detention centre No. 1 in Minsk, amounts to judicial harassment of a human rights defender for carrying out purely legitimate human rights activities, protected under all international human rights standards.

“Of particular concern in this matter is the witting or unwitting role played by the Polish authorities to facilitate the persecution of a human rights defender despite the EU’s well publicized position and guidelines on human rights defenders. The matter calls for an urgent review of how the guidelines are being implemented and how the EU countries should address incompatibilities between their obligations to protect human rights defenders and other bilateral or multilateral commitments” said Arnold Tsunga of ZIMRIGHTS and FIDH Vice President.

ZIMRIGHTS therefore calls upon the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Ales Bialiatski




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