EU alarm at deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus
Artur Widak via Reuters Connect
October 27, 2023

EU alarm at deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus

The European Union is gravely concerned over the latest report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus, which refers to documented violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.

In a statement at the UN General Assembly’s Interactive Dialogue on Human Rights in Belarus on 25 October, the EU said: “We are alarmed by the ever-growing instrumentalisation of the national legislation to shrink Belarus’ civic space and silence any critical voices, which you describe in detail in your report, and in this respect we condemn the recent designation of Viasna Human Rights Centre as an “extremist formation” meaning that anyone working with the organisation can be prosecuted for merely working there.”

The EU urges Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and detained human rights defenders, including those  sentenced on politically motivated charges of “extremism” or “terrorism”, and to cease the brutal repression and harassment against civil society. 

“The EU is determined to address the human rights situation in the country and will continue to support the Belarusian people in their legitimate quest for democracy, including through support to civil society and independent media,” the statement said.

The EU added that for over a year and a half, the Belarusian authorities had been acting as an accomplice in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, “against the will of the vast majority of the Belarusian people”

“The EU exhorts the Belarusian authorities to stop enabling Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s forcible transfer of Ukrainian children within areas temporarily controlled by Russia and their deportation to the Russian Federation and Belarus and urges Belarus to immediately ensure their safe return.”

The statement noted how the report outlined the misuse by Belarussian authorities of legislation and measures for countering terrorism and extremism to silence any actual or perceived dissent in the country and to curtail the remaining civic space, adding, “we are particularly troubled by the removal of the presumption of innocence and the right to fair trial from the counter-terrorism legislation.” 

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