International response

EU welcomes release of Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski

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Statement by the European external action service Spokesperson on the release of Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski :

“We welcome the release of Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. After almost three years of imprisonment on politically motivated grounds, he can now finally rejoin his family and friends.

This is an important step by the Belarusian authorities and should be followed without delay by the release of all the remaining political prisoners and the reinstatement of their full civil and political rights. This could contribute to improving relations between the European Union and Belarus.”

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US welcomes Ales Bialiatski’s release

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Jen Psaki, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, welcomed the release of Ales Bialiatski on Saturday, calling it “a positive development,” but reiterated the call for Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners and restore their political rights,” Radio Svaboda said.

These actions would pave the way for normalization of relations between the United States and Belarus,” she said in a statement. “We stand with the people of Belarus and reaffirm our readiness to help them build a democratic, prosperous, and truly independent European state.

In 2011, Ales Bialiatski won the Department of State’s Human Rights Defender Award for his work for the protection of victims of political repressions in Belarus and their families.

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Statement by the International Commission against the Death Penalty in Belarus

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The International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) condemns the execution of Ryhor Yuzepchuk (45) by authorities in Belarus ; the second in 2014.

The  exact  date  of  Ryhor  Yuzepchuk’s  execution  is  not  clear;  the  Mogilev regional  court  in  western  Belarus  reportedly  confirmed  the  execution  after  it became  public  knowledge  on  8  May.  His  execution  could,  reportedly,  have taken place in April. In Belarus, executions are carried out by shooting; and its Criminal Executive Code provides for the government to not return the bodies of those executed to their families and not to inform them of where their body is buried.

According to reports reaching ICDP, Ryhor Yuzepchuk was initially sentenced to death in April 2013 for the J...

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EU condamns arbitrary detentions of more than 30 civil society and political activists in Belarus

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Statement by the Spokesperson on the arbitrary detentions of more than 30 civil society and political activists in Belarus :

” We are concerned about the harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention of several dozens of representatives of civil society and opposition organisations in the run up to the World Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus. We condemn the use of administrative detention by the Belarusian authorities as an instrument aimed at creating pressure, fear and uncertainty among the young generation of people in Belarus.
We urge the authorities of Belarus to immediately stop these actions and to release all those unjustly detained, dropping all charges against them...
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Miklós Haraszti : halt further executions

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, has urged the Belarusian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on death sentences and to refrain from carrying out further executions.

Mr. Haraszti’s appeal follows the reported execution of Pavel Sialiun and a Supreme Court ruling last week upholding the death sentence against Eduard Lykau, both convicted for murder. Belarus is the only European country that still retains the death penalty.

No reports of executions for a considerable time, despite the imposition of several new death sentences, had filled the international community with the hope that Belarus had started a practical moratorium, which would then lead to a legal moratorium, and finally to the abolition of capital...

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Catherine Ashton strongly condemns latest execution in Belarus

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The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today on the latest execution in Belarus:

“The High Representative strongly condemns the execution of Pavel Selyun, who was sentenced to death in June 2013.

The High Representative is conscious of the serious nature of the crimes for which he was convicted. However, she does not believe that capital punishment can ever be justified. The European Union opposes capital punishment under all circumstances. The death penalty is considered to be a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.

The High Representative urges Belarus, t...

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Belarus still has no intention to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights

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In the near future Belarus intends to confirm the invitation to visit the country for a number of special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Of question here the special rapporteurs on freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of judges, on human trafficking and child pornography, on the rights of migrants and on violence against women. However, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, is still not invited.

We do not believe that it can or able to lead a constructive dialogue with the Belarusian government because of the specific personal qualities and background of the problem, and also because this post was established without the consent of the Belarusian government“, commented the head of the main bureau of the m...

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UN Human Rights Committee to consider complaint against ban on picket in support of Ales Bialiatski

A letter received on January 23 by the former chair of Homel City Executive Committee Sviatlana Haldadze says the UN Human Rights Committee has registered the complaint, which she, together with Homel human rights defenders Anatol Paplauny and Leanid Sudalenka, filed in connection with a ban on a rally in support of political prisoner Ales Bialiatski expected to be staged on August 4, 2012.

Similar pickets were scheduled across the country. Applications for the pickets were filed in all the regional centers and other cities, but all the gatherings were banned.

Sviatlana Haldadze asks the Committee to establish a violation of her and the human rights defenders’ rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and to recommend the Belarusian government to bring the Law “On Ma...

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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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Catherine Ashton calls on Belarus to join global moratorium on the death penalty

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The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement on December 19:

The High Representative regrets the death sentence recently handed down to an individual by the Minsk Regional Court. She hopes that his right to appeal will be fully exercised.

She is conscious of the serious nature of the crimes for which he has been convicted. However, capital punishment can never be justified. The European Union opposes capital punishment under all circumstances. The death penalty is cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.

The High Representative urges Belarus, the only country in Eu...

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