The Minister said:
“I am deeply concerned about the detention of the prominent Belarusian human rights defender, Ales Byalyatski, Chair of the respected human rights defence organisation Vyasna, and Vice President of the International Human Rights Federation. He was detained on Thursday under suspicion of gross tax evasion, a charge which carries a possible sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment.
“This appears to be a further example of the blatant harassment of human rights defenders in Belarus. 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. The UK will be raising the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus with EU partners.”