Today, at the 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Miklos Haraszti presented his report on the situation in the country.
International human rights organizations and Valentin Stefanovich, Deputy Chair of the Human Right Center Viasna, were invited to participate after the UN member states had a chance to exchange their views.
Find the full version of the presentation made by the Belarusian human rights defender who spoke on behalf of the HRC Viasna, an FIDH member organization in the country :
My name is Valentin Stefanovich; I am the Deputy Chair of the Human Right Center Viasna. I have been leading this organization since our Chairman was arrested and sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment at a maximum security prison camp.
Human Right Center VIASNA and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcome the Report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. The human rights situation in Belarus remains as bad as ever. Civil and political rights are subject to strict limitations. A number of political prisoners remain behind bars, including the former presidential candidate at the 2010 elections Mr. Statkevich, Chairman of the Human Right Center Viasna and Vice-president of FIDH Mr. Bialiatski and the leader of the Young Front Mr. Dashkevich.
The country continues to use capital punishment, and death sentences are being passed and carried out. Activities of unregistered NGO are criminalized, and acceptance of financial assistance from abroad is considered to be against the law in violation of the March resolution by the UN Human Rights Council.
Belarus ignores resolutions of the Human Rights Committee, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and other international bodies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus made an official statement to the effect that no decisions by the Human Rights Committee in individual cases shall be deemed binding. No decisions by the Human Rights Committee on individual complaints have been acted upon..
This past March, in response to the decision by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the case of Ales Bialiatski who has been incarcerated since August 2011, the Belarusian delegation made an official announcement that it would stop cooperating with this UN mechanism.
Death sentences continue to be carried out despite a number of individual appeals in such cases registered and acted upon urgently by the Human Rights Committee, of which action Belarusian authorities have been duly informed.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to invite UN Special Rapporteurs into the country, including Special Rapporteurs on torture, human rights defenders, the independence of judges and lawyers and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, as well as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. We also call for a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus who has repeatedly requested to be allowed access to gather information on the situation in the country from both the government agencies and independent NGOs.
We would like to remind everyone concerned that Special Procedures are deemed to be auxiliary UN mechanisms, and their decisions are those by the UN. As a UN member state, Belarus must cooperate with all the UN bodies and mechanisms (as stipulated in Article 56 of the UN Charter) and is bound by any and all treaties ratified by this country.