Forced labour

Forced labour or “voluntary forced” labour is used extensively and routinely throughout Belarus, affecting a wide range of groups. A large part of the population appears, at some point, to have been directly or indirectly subjected to compulsory or forced labour. This flagrantly contradicts international law, including the International Labor Organization’s core Conventions on the prohibition of forced labour. Repressive practices in the sphere of working relations have also led to discrimination against persons perceived to be opponents of the regime.

Please see the below articles on the situation of labour rights in Belarus:

FIDH: While the World Ice Hockey Championship takes place, violations continue …


Belarus is hosting the World Ice Hockey Championship, which started last Friday and will end on 25 May. For once, this country – usually ignored by the media and international public opinion – will be in the spotlight.

FIDH has made 3 short animated films to denounce the human rights violations taking place in Belarus.  These abuses cannot be camouflaged by the Championship. These three 15-second films will be aired during 3 big “game-days” : 13 May Norway / Sweden, 15 May Finland/Belarus, and 20 May Russia/Belarus.

Together, w...

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Film and debate on human rights in Belarus at Human Rights Film Festival in Geneva


An international human rights film festival took place in Geneva on March 9, 2014. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) dedicated this festival to human rights defenders who symbolize the battle for human dignity and human rights throughout the world. For Belarus, this person is Ales Bialiatski, the imprisoned head of the Human Rights Center Viasna.

The documentary film Europe’s Last Dictator received a public showing as part of this festival. Before the film began, Mariangela Zappia, the EU ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and Sasha Koulaeva, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at FIDH, addressed the audience.

After the film, a debate was moderated by the journalist André Loersch...

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Human rights situation in Belarus discussed at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva


The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) organized a number of meetings and events on the situation with human rights in Belarus as part of a session of the UN Human Rights Council that took place in Geneva on March 6 – 7, 2014.

Participants in the round table “Social and Economic Rights in Belarus are Violated as Systematically as Political and Civil Rights” concentrated on violations of freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and the election process, noting in particular the situation with political prisoners. They also presented a report by FIDH and the Human Rights Centre Viasna entitled “Forced Labor and the Pervasive Violations of Workers’ Rights in Belarus”...

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Belarus should abolish compulsory labour and ensure adequate protection of workers. This, among other important recommendations, was put forward by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) following its review of Belarus in November 2013.

The UN Conclusions reflect key issues and recommendations raised in the joint FIDH and Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’ report “Forced labour and pervasive violations of workers’ rights in Belarus”. They provide a long-awaited assessment of the rhetoric espoused by the authorities in Belarus, who persistently present the country as ‘the last remaining social paradise in Europe’.

“Along with pervasive violations of political and civil rights, the Belarusian government persistently violates the social and economic rights of its citi...

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New report by FIDH and HRC Viasna : Forced Labor and the Pervasive Violation of Workers’ Rights in Belarus


Belarus authorities use of every means possible to feed the country’s economy to the detriment of its citizens’ economic and social rights. Internationally publicized as the «last European socialist paradise», Belarus forces large portions of its population to work, sometimes without pay and especially without the possibility to protest harsh or unfair conditions. These are the main observations of a report published today by FIDH and HRC Viasna.

Economic and working issues are quite sensitive in Belarus, especially in the current climate...

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Valiantsin Stefanovich: Medical and labour centre is prison without court decision


Valiantsin Stefanovich, Vice-president of human rights centre “Viasna”, commented the case of former political prisoner Vasily Parfiankou sent to a medical and labour centre for a year.

“As for the procedure of taking a person to such centres, human rights centre “Viasna” considers it to be a violation of human rights, no matter to whom it is applied. Alcoholism cannot be treated forcefully, moreover by enforced labour. Patients of medical and labour centres usually work at construction sites or on collective farms. We had a mission to study the situation of enforced labour in Belarus. The report will soon be released. We studied the use of enforced labour in relation to patients with alcohol addiction isolated in medical and labour centres...

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Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” on the forced hospitalization of Ihar Pastnou


Minsk, 2 September 2013

The Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center ” Viasna” are concerned about the forced hospitalization of Ihar Pastnou.

On 21 August 2013 the Vitsebsk region and district court in closed session granted the solicitation of the Vitsebsk regional clynical center of psychiatry and narcology about the forced hospitalization and medical treatment of Ihar Pastnou.

However, the case was considered in his absence. The court verdict doesn’t contain sufficient grounding of the impossibility of his participation in the trial, there is only a formal reason, provided by Article 391, part 3 of the Civil Process Code, which gives the opportunity to consider a case in the absence of a citizen – the state of his health.

That’s why it is necessary to point that the ...

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Vitebsk doctor Ihar Pastnou forcefully gets psychiatric treatment

Video Igor Postnov

Ihar Pastnou, a pediatrician from Vitebsk, reports about forced psychiatric treatment.

The Vitesbk district court permitted treatment “at the discretion of doctors” on August 21. The court decision hasn’t come into force yet, but Ihar Pastnou says the Vitebsk regional psychiatric hospital began to fulfil it, Human Rights Center “Viasna” informs.

Ihar Pastnou says he gets compulsory psychotropic injections. He was allowed to make a short telephone call, independent journalist from Vitebsk Uladzimir Zhyhuloiu says:

“Pastnou suddenly called and said he had one minute. He said he received compulsory injections. After the words ‘Shame on our psychiatry’ the conversation ended.”

Ihar Pastnou was going to appeal against the court decision on forced psychiatric treatment...

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