On February 24, at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented a report on the human rights situation in Belarus in the context of the presidential elections.
The report notes that from May 1 to December 20, serious human rights violations occurred in the country.
“The events that unfolded before and immediately after the elections led to an unprecedented human rights crisis in the country. They also demonstrated even more clearly the long-standing practice of systemic violations and impunity, which the special rapporteurs already noted on Belarus,”Bachelet said.
Among the violations, the UN representative named numerous violations during the elections, non-respect for fundamental freedoms, mass arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful demonstrators, reports of torture and ill-treatment, intimidation and pressure on opposition activists, human rights defenders, and other citizens.
“All these violations, which go unpunished, have created a climate of fear,”Bachelet said.
The key aspect of the human rights crisis in Belarus, Bachelet calls impunity and notes that during the period covered by the report (until December 20), no criminal proceedings were initiated on complaints of the use of excessive force by the security forces.
The human rights situation continues to deteriorate, Bachelet said. “The authorities continue to systematically repress the protesters. I am also concerned that the amendments to the legislation, which are reportedly being developed, provide for harsher penalties for participation in peaceful demonstrations,” the UN representative said.
The report contains some recommendations, including:
-release all those detained for the peaceful exercise of their rights,
-conduct thorough and transparent investigations into all reports of human rights violations, and bring those responsible to justice,
-stop the policy of intimidation and harassment of civil society and journalists,
-reform the legislation to solve systemic problems and prevent the recurrence of human rights violations,
-revise the law on mass events in accordance with international law,
-introduce the notification principle of holding peaceful assemblies, and
-revise the law on mass media in accordance with international law.