World news story

Human Rights Council 35: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus

This UK statement was delivered at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council during Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus on 14 June 2017.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

We welcome your report and its recommendations, and thank you for your work under difficult circumstances. We reiterate our call for the Belarusian authorities to engage constructively with you.

The human rights situation in Belarus remains a serious cause for concern. The crackdown by the Belarusian authorities on peaceful protestors, human rights activists and journalists in March was a clear violation of human rights, underscoring an approach which places severe limits on the space for political and media freedoms. We call on Belarus to respect and uphold the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

We welcome the adoption of a National Action Plan on Human Rights and urge the government to progress its implementation. We recall Belarus’ stated willingness to engage with the international community and urge the Belarusian authorities to continue to work constructively with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE.

Belarus is the only country in Europe still applying the death penalty. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and call on the government to establish a moratorium as a first step towards abolition. We note the cooperation of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Council of Europe in the delivery of a UK funded conference on the ‘Abolition of the Death Penalty and Public Opinion’ which took place in Minsk last December, and the follow-up work with the Belarus Parliament. We hope these reflect steps towards change.

We would be grateful to learn more about how, in support of your mandate, you have engaged with those UN specialised agencies present in Belarus.

Published 14 June 2017