The UN must establish an independent investigative body for Belarus

News 25.09.2023

Right Livelihood and 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Viasna jointly called for an independent investigative body for Belarus at the 54th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Belarus currently has 1,500 political prisoners enduring inhumane conditions, while exiled human rights defenders face repression, including trials in absentia and passport refusals, we warned.

You can read the entire statement here.

The level of repression in Belarus amounts to a human rights crisis. Last month, Viasna was officially designated as an “extremist formation” by the state for allegedly organising activities that attack Belarus’s sovereignty and insult its officials. The pattern of labelling civil society organisations as extremists is increasingly common.

Despite frequent arrests and reprisals, Viasna continues its work documenting the state’s systematic violations. However, since being designated as an extremist organisation, all those engaging with Viasna are now criminally liable. Some have stopped reporting violations out of concern for their safety.

Belarus’s crackdown on human rights defenders cannot continue, we told the Council. To hold Belarusian authorities accountable for these injustices, we called for the creation of a fully independent investigative body. 

As the repression intensifies, over 1,500 political prisoners are currently being held in Belarus, often in inhumane conditions. Repression also extends beyond the country’s border, with trials being held in absentia for those in exile and authorities refusing to issue passports for Belarusians living abroad.

We urgently called for the release of all these prisoners, including Viasna members Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovic, Uladzimir Labkovich, Marfa Rabkova and Andrei Chapiuk. The international community must act swiftly to address this grave human rights crisis in Belarus.

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