NGOs call for extension of mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Belarus

Statement by Yuri Dzhibladze at the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council during interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Belarus.

Civicus and the Committee of International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus, a coalition of more than 50 NGOs from different countries, welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur. We believe it clearly and precisely reflects the situation on the ground and the main concerns of the international community. The report has nothing to do with political pressure, but focuses exclusively on the UN human rights obligations.

As a result of our monitoring on the ground, we see that in the last year the human rights situation in Belarus has not only remained bad; it has deteriorated further, first and foremost in the areas of freedoms of association, expression, and assembly as well as concerning the use of torture and ill-treatment in custody, impunity of perpetrators of human rights abuses, and violations of fair trial safeguards.

We support reference in the report to specific areas where comprehensive review of relevant legislation, policies, strategies and practices should be done. Relevant UN documents containing recommendations on the human rights situation in Belarus should serve as a framework for legislative and policy change.

We believe that a comprehensive reform of the justice sector should be a key demand in order to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and ensure fair trial guarantees. Without independent courts civic activists, journalists, defense lawyers and the opposition members will continue to be harassed and imprisoned on fabricated charges.

We strongly believe that extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is absolutely necessary not only because the situation in Belarus requires continued attention of the Council, but because the second term could be devoted to the development of a more focused analysis of existing legislative framework in Belarus, lack of its compliance with the UN human rights standards and obligations, and elaboration of concrete recommendations on how legislation and practices should be changed to bring them in compliance with UN obligations.

This kind of a “road map” would serve as a basis for dialogue with the Belarusian government and society and, equally important, would help to decide in the next year and possibly further on, whether progress in Belarus has been sufficient enough to terminate the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, or more work needs to be done and therefore the mandate needs to be extended further.

This would put the discussion on the situation in Belarus firmly in the legal framework and allow the Council to avoid fruitless debate about politisation of its country-specific work.

 

4 June, 2013, Geneva

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