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The Intersessional meeting of the Human Rights Council regarding the situation in Belarus

The Intersessional meeting of the Human Rights Council regarding the situation in Belarus took place on December 4, 2020, in Geneva. In accordance with Council Resolution 45/1 ‘Situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath,’ the High Commissioner Michelle Blachelet, speaking at the meeting, presented the report about more than 27,000 arrests since August 9, in Belarus. The Commissioner highlighted several severe human rights violations, including violation of the due process and fair trial rights, ‘particularly the rights of a person to be informed of the reason for arrest, be promptly brought before a judge, seek legal counsel and receive medical assistance; and the right to notify relatives.

Mrs. Blachelet emphasized the continued harassment, arrests and incriminating criminal charges and prison sentences for human rights defenders, journalists, as well as alleging the disciplinary sanctions for teachers and students.

Lawyers associated with the opposition, or acting as counsel in cases involving human rights violations, are also under pressure. Some face criminal charges, and others were disbarred’, – was stated by the Commissioner.

A technical team from the Office of the High Commissioner in Geneva received the rejection in accessing Belarus for monitoring purposes. During the 46th session of the Human Rights Council that will take place in Geneva from February 22, 2021 to March 19, 2021, the comprehensive report on Belarus will be presented.

The High Commissioner called the Belarusian government:

  • To immediately release all those unlawfully or arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and participation;
  • To respect the right of peaceful assembly, and cease the violent dispersal of peaceful assemblies and judicial retaliation against organizers and participants;
  • To create an enabling environment for all individuals, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers to participate in public affairs and carry out their activities safely and freely;
  • To ensure that prompt, thorough, independent, transparent and impartial investigations are conducted into all allegations of torture and other human rights violations, including the deaths of at least four persons in the context of the protests; to hold perpetrators to account; and to provide justice truth and reparations to victims and their families.

The full text of speech is here.

Mrs. Olga Salomatova spoke on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the meeting, bringing into focus the systemic violations of the right to defense in the context of the right of lawyers in Belarus. The text and video of the speech are below.

Full video of the Human Rights Council meeting regarding the situation in Belarus is here.

Read full statement here.

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