Following the sentencing of Ales Bialiatski, the Minister for Europe said:
“Today we have seen yet another case of the belarusian judicial system being used to punish those in belarus who seek to exercise and defend basic human rights. I condemn the sentencing of the prominent belarusian human rights defender, Ales Bialiatski, to four and a half years imprisonment for alleged tax evasion. belarus’ misuse of legal agreements with neighbouring states illegally to obtain information which formed the basis of the case mounted against Bialiatski is a salutary reminder of the dangers of cooperation with an increasingly lawless administration.
“As Chair of the respected human rights defence organisation, Viasna, and Vice-President of the International Human Rights Federation, Bialiatski has worked selflessly to defend and assist political prisoners and their families and to promote human rights and democracy. Bialiatski’s trial is further evidence of the harassment of human rights defenders in belarus and an attempt to prevent Viasna from carrying out its legitimate work. I call on the authorities to ensure the rights and freedoms of all human rights defenders are fully upheld in accordance with the international treaties that the Government of belarus has ratified.”