On 23 January 2013 Front Line Defenders released its fourth Annual Report on Global Challenges facing Human Rights Defenders around the World in 2012.

The report explores the situation on both the global and regional level including several countries examined in focus namely: Burundi, Vietnam, Guatemala Kazakhstan and Algeria. It highlights the ‘unabated’ targeting of human rights defenders for their work documenting abuses, exposing corruption, or pushing for reform.

“The attacks and killings highlighted in this report are only the tip of the iceberg. In many countries the government has either shut down the local media, subjected human rights organisations to campaigns of intimidation or tried to silence those brave enough to bring the facts to international attention” said Front Line Defenders Executive Director Mary Lawlor.

On the human rights situation in Belarusian, the report highlights following points :

– introduction of legislation restricting freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression, as well as strengthening State control over independent media and the Internet.

- The use of tax regulations to target HRDs remained a common practice. Following the imprisonment of Ales Bialiatski, sentenced for alleged tax evasion in late 2011, other human rights defenders were summoned for questioning by tax inspectors in 2012 or were requested to submit tax documents in the context of investigations reportedly opened at the initiative of security officials. The space for civil society in Belarus remained extremely limited and all HRDs faced intense surveillance.

- The use of the legal system against human rights defenders remained a familiar tactic by states in all region of Easten Europe and Central Asia, with unsubstantiated charges such as hooliganism, bribery of public officials, fraud, and terrorism.

See full text of the Front Line Defender’s Annual Report.

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