International response

Foreign Minister Makey: There are no political prisoners in Belarus

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There are no political prisoners in Belarus, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey told reporters Friday in Vilnius on the sidelines of the Third Eastern Partnership Summit.

“Those called political prisoners are held in prison for specific criminal offenses,” Mr. Makey noted, adding that in other countries, they would probably have been given longer prison terms.

“The European Union’s sanctions against Belarus should be lifted or else there will be no progress in talks”, Mr. Makey said. “There should be a dialogue. All problems that exist in our relations with the EU should be solved in the process of dialogue.”

When asked whether the Belarusian authorities would release political prisoners in exchange for the abolition of the EU sanctions, Mr. Makey said: “This question should not be...

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Füle: Belarus-EU relations depend on political prisoners issue

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The European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy has commented on the prospects of EU development programmes in Belarus.

The prospects of EU-Belarus relations are great but they depend on the Belarusian authorities’ decision concerning political prisoners, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle told Euroradio at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

- You said that you believed in the programme Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarus a year ago. How do you assess relations with Belarus now and what prospects can you see?

Štefan Füle: The prospects are great. They only depend on the Belarusian authorities’ decision concerning political prisoners. The European Unions’ policy is absolutely clear...

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OSCE/ODIHR Director says Belarusian human rights defender should be released

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WARSAW, 25 November 2013 – Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today reminded the Belarusian authorities of previous calls by OSCE Chairpersons-in-Office for the release of human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, who was found guilty on tax-evasion charges in 2011, and added his voice to theirs, calling Bialiatski’s case a violation of OSCE commitments.

Noting that Sunday was the second anniversary of Bialiatski’s conviction, Lenarčič highlighted Bialiatski’s case while expressing concern over the general situation for human rights defenders in Belarus.

The offence for which Bialiatsky was found guilty was the direct result of the authorities’ refusal to allow his organization to work to promote and prote...

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Belarusian human rights activists: EU to make public the rules of exclusion from the list of visa banned

In late October, the EU amended the list of Belarusian officials subject to visa sanctions.

In its decision, the Council of Europe canceled sanctions inrespect of the assets of businessman  Vladimir Peftiev, close to the regime : OOO «Business Network», ZAO «Systems of investment and innovation», ChUP «Sen-Ko» ChUP «BT Invest» «Tehnosoyuzpribor».

In addition, the EU excluded the following people from the list of the «banned»: Alexander Dranitsa (military prosecutor), Anatoly Dudkin(transport prosecutor), Olga Komar (former judge of Frunzensky district of Minsk), Nicholay Kulik (former prosecutor), Nikolai Kupriyanov (former Deputy Attorney General), Vladimir Kurlovich (former chairman of Minsk oblast election commission), Leonid Luchina (former chairman of Grodno oblast election...

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Miklos Haraszti’s report on Belarus presented and discussed at the UN General Assembly in New York

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On October 28, the UN General Assembly in New York hosted a presentation and interactive dialogue of national delegations on the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti.

After the presentation of the report, representative of the official Belarusian delegation in his speech noted once again that Belarus did not recognize the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and, accordingly, his report, and refused to cooperate with him. The representative of Belarus said his country viewed the establishment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus as an attempt by the EU to put pressure on the country, which is pursuing an independent policy...

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EU sanctions against Belarus extended

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On 29 October 2013, the Council of the European Union made a following statement:

Following an annual review, the Council today extended EU restrictive measures against Belarus until 31 October 2014. This is because not all political prisoners have been released, no released prisoner has been rehabilitated, and the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles has not improved in Belarus.

The EU maintains its policy of critical engagement with Belarus, intended to promote respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles in that country.

The annual review updated the list of those targeted with a travel ban and freeze of their assets within the EU. 232 persons and 25 entities remain subject to EU sanctions.

The legal acts have been adopted by written...

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EU and Council of Europe urge Belarus to abolish death penalty

European Day against the Death Penalty

Strasbourg, 09.10.2013 – The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, have issued a joint declaration to mark the 7th European Day against the Death Penalty (10 October).

In the declaration, Secretary General Jagland and High Representative Ashton reiterate their strong opposition to the use of capital punishment, underling its inhumane and cruel nature and its failure to prevent crime.

Encouraged by the growing momentum towards worldwide abolition, they nevertheless state that the resumption of executions in different parts of the world and voices in favour of the death penalty – including in Europe – show the continuing need to spell out why it runs contrary to...

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Death penalty in Belarus: UN expert calls to stop executions after recent court rulings

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GENEVA (9 October 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, urged the Government of Belarus to start an immediate moratorium on executions before the relevant legislation and court system can be reformed and capital punishment can be removed from the country’s Criminal Code. Belarus is the only European country that still retains the death penalty for certain crimes during times of peace and war.

I am deeply disappointed by the rulings of Belarusian courts which continue to hand down death sentences to the country’s citizens,” Mr. Haraszti said, expressing his regret regarding the decision of the country’s Supreme Court, which on 18 September ruled to uphold the death sentence handed to Pavel Selyun. Mr...

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Dialogue between PACE and Belarus should remain conditional on the release of political prisoners

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The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy made the following statement:

“The committee welcomes the Assembly decision to award the first ever Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights, to Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, and believes that he is a symbol of all human rights defenders facing repression in Belarus.

Following a hearing on 2 October in Strasbourg with the participation of Natallia Radzina, Editor-in-chief of the independent Belarusian news site Charter97.org and Aliaksandr Lahviniec, Vice-Chairperson of the Movement for Freedom, the committee is deeply concerned about the conditions of political prisoners and allegations of violence, torture and forced psychiatric treatment...

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15 European MPs issue joint statement on international Day of Solidarity with Civil Society in Belarus

2 August 2013 – Joint Statement of 15 international MPs on human rights in Belarus

On initiative of Marek Migalski, Polish member of European Parliament, and Swiss-German human rights watchdog Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, 15 international members of parliament issued the statement below on the human rights situation in Belarus.

Joint Statement of 15 european MPs on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with Civil Society and Human Rights Movement in Belarus on 4th August 2013:

“The latest reports and statements of Belarusian human rights defenders demonstrate that the human rights situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate.

At least 12 political prisoners are still being kept in Belarusian prisons, including a presidential candidate, Mikalai Statkevich; a hea...

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