States must better protect human rights defenders in Belarus, we warned in UN joint statement
In a joint statement with 2020 Laureate organisation Human Rights Center “Viasna”, Right Livelihood called for the creation of an independent investigative mechanism for Belarus. The statement was made during the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva following the recent illegitimate sentencing of Laureate Ales Bialiatski and Viasna leaders Valiantsin Stefanovic, Uladzimir Labkovic and Zmister Salauyou.
The systematic repression of fundamental freedoms in Belarus knows no limit, we told the Council. Belarusian authorities have only intensified their efforts to silence activists, spreading fear via torture, arbitrary detentions and ambiguous new laws allowing for the use of the death penalty in alleged cases of “attempted acts of terrorism”.
For this reason, Right Livelihood and Viasna encouraged the Member States of the Council to step up their actions to hold Belarusian authorities responsible by creating an independent investigative mechanism for the country.
The treatment of the Viasna leaders during their trial, in which they were handcuffed, caged, denied pens and paper, targeted by state media smear campaigns, and given lengthy sentences and unpayable fines, epitomised the lawlessness of Belarusian authorities, we told the Council.
As the situation in Belarus has made domestic remedies to these human rights abuses impossible, we also called on the Council to continue urging Belarus to release all political prisoners, which currently amounts to nearly 1,500 people. The true criminals, the Belarusian authorities, need to be held accountable through the use of universal jurisdiction.