International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Human Rights Center “VIASNA”
Today (13 June 2013), the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus and expressing deep concern at continuing violations of human rights in the country.
In strong language, the resolution «urges the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, (…) and to put an immediate end to the arbitrary detention of Human Rights Defenders, arbitrary travel bans (…) aimed at intimimidating representatives of the political opposition and the media, as well as human rights defenders and civil society».
“The Council sent the clear message to Belarus that its systematic refusal to cooperate with the UN only demonstrates its total lack of will to improve its human rights record. My colleague Ales Bialiatski, who was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment at a high security prison camp, is still waiting for Belarus to fulfill its international obligations which state that he should be immediately released»,- said Viasna Vice-President Valentin Stefanovic.
The resolution, presented by the European Union, was adopted by a majority of 26 members states, against 3, with 18 abstentions. The support for this resolution has proven broader than that for the last resolution on Belarus. Countries from all regions, including Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mauritania and Peru added their votes to the European and other Western states’, giving strong cross-regional support to the resolution.
The Council nevertheless failed to address in strong terms the issue of death penalty in Belarus and settled for a minimalistic approach to this matter, «noting the attention paid by the Special Rapporteur to the issue of death penalty» and not condemning the use of capital punishment, and death sentences in Belarus, while another death sentence was pronounced yestarday.