HRC56 - Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus - 03 July 2024
626.3 MB

Statements | HRC

HRC56 - Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus - 03 July 2024

Opening statement by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights Belarus, Anaïs Marin (last address of Ms. Marin as Special Rapporteur before the Council), at the 56th session of the Human Rights Council.

will now begin the interactive dialogue with the special
rapporteur on the situation of human Rights in Belarus.
The list of speakers will close in 15 minutes.
I give the floor to Ms Anna
the special rapporteur on the situation of human Rights in Belarus,
to present her report.
Please, You have
Thank you.
Mr Vice President Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
this is my last address to the Council in my capacity as special rapporteur
on human rights in Belarus.
In addition to the usual annual review of developments,
the report I am presenting today
draws your attention on to freedom of association.
Over the reporting period, the situation with every single human right
continued to deteriorate.
The concerns and recommendations stemming from the negative trends
that I alerted you about in previous years remain topical
regarding the administration of justice,
the misuse of security laws to restrict human rights and the
fact that this pushes people to flee their own country.
Mister Vice President,
I am sorry to say that I have no improvement to report.
The authorities ignored my request for a visit.
They did not use the opportunity to share input or comments on the report.
Legislative changes meant to further restrict the enjoyment
of human rights were adopted that also illustrate
an attempt at legalising post hoc
the persecution of anyone trying to exert these rights.
The first part of the report lists these
provisions stressing their incompatibility
with Belarus's international obligations.
The general trend, I observe,
is a further tightening of the screws against
any real or perceived opposition to the acting government
and the systematic persecution of anyone who dares.
Expressing dissenting views about its policies,
Belarus entered a new electoral cycle,
sending no signal that the next presidential
election will be held differently than before.
Hence, I believe that the council was right to renew my mandate.
The situation of human rights in Belarus will continue to require your attention.
Let me share my concerns about three of the most worrying recent trends.
Firstly, I received multiple reports of cruel and ill treatment in detention,
especially of persons detained on political motives.
According to human rights defenders,
there are now 1409 political prisoners in Belarus.
New searches, arbitrary detentions and seizure of property occur on a daily basis,
increasingly targeting relatives of those in prison or in exile.
Those behind bars suffer from discrimination restrictions
on communication with their families and lawyers,
disciplinary sanctions, solitary confinement
and incommunicado detentions
in some cases for such long periods
that it could amount to enforced disappearances.
Additional prison terms are regularly handed out for
alleged malicious disobedience to the penitentiary administration.
Denial of adequate and timely medical care is
reportedly systematic and deliberate against political prisoners.
This is particularly concerning since it apparently
led to several deaths in prison.
While calling for the release and
rehabilitation of all those arbitrarily detained.
I encourage the president of Belarus to act on his yesterday's promise
and immediately pardon ill persons imprisoned because
of their involvement in the 2020 events.
Secondly, dissidents compelled to exile continue to face harassment,
being labelled as traitors or extremists and prosecuted in absentia
for alleged crimes.
In what appears to me rather as a revenge on the part of the government,
these exiles
have no fair trial guarantees.
Since September 23 all Belarusians living abroad have seen several of their human
rights impacted by the fact that consulates
stopped issuing passports and powers of attorney
in the long run
those who for any reason cannot return to Belarus are at risk of statelessness.
I deplore the continuous impunity for past human rights violations,
although some of those committed since 2020 may amount to crimes against humanity,
according to reports submitted in the frame of the
accountability mechanisms established by this council in 2021.
In fact,
recent legislative changes illustrate an
effort at preventively exonerating from accountability
some categories of state officials previously identified
as perpetrators of human rights violations.
The security forces which have recently been granted
the right to fire indiscriminately at protesters,
and the president who received lifelong immunity.
This should prompt the international community
to support all efforts to enable or establish courts with universal jurisdiction
to adjudicate the gravest violations committed in the country,
such as crimes of torture
and deportation.
As we all know, it is not only our moral duty.
This is the only guarantee of non reoccurrence
distinguished delegates
turning to freedom of association.
Let me remind you that without free associations,
all other human rights are limited
and civic space is not free from the domination or control of the state itself.
My report shows that the government of Belarus embarked on a
systematic purge of all the associations it sees as disloyal.
The first targeted were human rights, defence groups
and online communities, including telegram chats
in 2022 cultural associations, independent trade unions and bar associations.
In 23 the legislation and political parties was amended,
leading to the disappearance of 11 out of 15 parties,
with only four allowed to field
candidates in last February's parliamentary elections.
In 2024 religious associations
became the next in line.
In all these cases, drastic measures were taken
to suppress independent associations.
The authorities ordered re
registration campaigns,
restricted access to funding
and retaliated against anyone making donations to independent organisations.
These associations were liquidated through or without
judicial proceedings or forced to self dissolve.
1500 associations disappeared in recent years.
That is almost half the number that existed prior to the 2020 events.
This was achieved also by designating them as extremist
formations and subsequently prosecuting their leaders and members,
pushing them to relocate abroad.
The report details the extent of the damage incurred for civil society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
as you see repression in Belarus has reached such
a scale and intensity that it should not be
considered a safe country for anyone who ever showed
this agreement with the government or its policies.
I therefore reiterate my call to refrain
from extraditions and expulsions to Belarus.
Please consider with extreme caution
any request for international Cooper
with the police, judiciary
or tax administration of Belarus.
From what I know,
the authorities even misled Interpol into issuing red
notices in order to capture dissidents abroad.
Supporting this misuse could turn your
governments into accomplices of very serious
human rights violations.
On the other hand, I commend
amendments to domestic regulations introduced by some states
to prevent the pushback of exiled Belarusians whose passports have expired
and to issue IDs and travel documents
to their Children born abroad.
I call on all other host countries to follow suit
and generalise the issuance of permanent residence permits
and foreigners' passports to Belarusians compelled to remain abroad.
Concerns for their safety are absolutely founded.
I deeply regret
that the government of Belarus chose not to co
operate with my mandate and mostly ignored its recommendations.
So far,
I am calling on the authorities to review
their position and establish an effective working relation with my successor,
as this council repeatedly requested in its resolutions since 2012.
Meanwhile, I encourage all stakeholders
to continue supporting civil society in Belarus and abroad
to never stop protecting Belarusians human rights,
by all possible means at their disposal at the UN and beyond.
And to help them promote their independence, culture and language.
This is now crucial for their survival
as a nation.
Thank you.