OSCE Chairperson : Bialiatski should be set free

DUBLIN, 24 January 2012 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore T.D., expressed his regret today that prominent Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was not freed on appeal.

“A person should not be prosecuted for protecting human rights. This case is an unfortunate reflection of the state of human rights in Belarus and a result of the restrictions imposed on freedom of association in the country.  I urge the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Ales Bialiatski and all other civil society activists, and political opponents.”

“The continued erosion of human rights in the country is very worrying.  By persecuting human rights defenders and limiting the freedom of association, Belarus is falling short of its OSCE commitments.”

Bialiatski, Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Head of the Belarusian Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, was convicted on 24 November 2011 on tax evasion charges and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in an enhanced regime detention camp.

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