Today, UN Special Rapporteur Miklós Haraszti has presented his report on the human rights situation in Belarus at the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The presentation of the report, which was published in March, took almost ten minutes. Special Rapporteur Miklós Haraszti listed the main points of the report and noted that he had not been able to visit Belarus because the government there refused to issue him an entry visa.
In his report, UN Special Rapporteur noted that the situation with political prisoners is especially grave: “When taken together with information we have received about psychological and physical pressure on prisoners, detention conditions in prison facilities can be qualified as substandard and even as torture.”
The report recommends that the Belarusian authorities should release political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and take measures to remove all barriers that hinder the active participation of NGOs and opposition parties in the country’s political life and guarantee that all laws will be applied impartially in practice.
Miklós Haraszti’s report has caused objections of the official representative of Belarus to the UN, Mikhail Khvastou.
The diplomat said that the report is used to exert political and economic pressure on Belarus, reports Radio Liberty. “Belarus does not need a special rapporteur or similar institutions. We know what problems we have, and are ready to tackle them. We have our own model based on national sovereignty, security and the rule of law. We deny the allegations contained in the report, and proclaim that the conclusions of the report are unacceptable to us, “- Khvastou said.
Belarus’ position was supported by Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Iran, Syria.
Representatives of Germany, Poland, France, Hungary, Spain, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Great Britain, Slovakia, Sweden, Lithuania, Belgium and other countries thanked the Special Rapporteur for his work.
— UK Mission Geneva (@UKMissionGeneva) June 4, 2013
More than eight countries demanded the immediate release of Belarusian political prisoners and their rehabilitation. Many of the countries mentioned specific jailed political prisoners and opposition activists like Ales Bialiatski, Dmitry Dashkevich, and Nikolay Statkevich. The Polish ambassador to the Council asked the special rapporteur what the EU can do to support civil society in Belarus.
— Free Ales Bialiatski (@FreeAles) June 4, 2013
Norway and Sweden came out in support of extending the special rapporteur’s mandate. The US ambassador noted that Belarus had the lowest country ranking for freedom of the press. She expressed her hope that extending the special rapporteur’s mandate would improve the situation with human rights.
The largest international human rights organizations and the deputy chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center Valentin Stefanovich also expressed their support of the report. In his speech, Stefanovich reminded the Council of prisoners currently behind bars under politically motived accusations and spoke about the persecution of civil activists in Belarus.