16/03/2021 HRC46: “Never before have we faced such a critical human rights situation” denounces Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski

HRC46: “Never before have we faced such a critical human rights situation” denounces Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski

Human Rights, 16/03/2021

On March 16, 2021, during the outcome of the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus, held during the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Ales Bialiatski delivered a statement condemning the arbitrary arrest and detention of peaceful protesters in Belarus and demanded accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations. 

Speaking as a country concerned, Mr. Yury Ambrazevich, Permanent Representative of Belarus, took the floor to praise Belarus’ engagement and commitment to the UPR process, as well as the country’s progress in the field of human rights since the last UPR cycle. Belarus took note of 266 recommendations, covering around 100 thematic issues. 155 recommendations were accepted, 18 we partially accepted and 33 were considered as already implemented or under implementation. Belarus declined all sets of “stereotypical recommendations that were driven by the political ambitions of certain countries” because of “factual distortion and incorrect statements”, argued the Ambassador. He added that Belarus has all the necessary means to decide independently on its human rights development, without external interference, and reiterated his position against country-specific resolutions without the acceptance of the concerned country. 

During the debate, 13 States took the floor. Ethiopia, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation, Venezuela, among others, welcomed the constructive engagement of Belarus with the UPR process and praised the improvement of Belarus on the promotion and protection of socio-economic rights, such as education and healthcare. Other States, notably Germany and the UK, deplored the refusal of all recommendations addressing the current unprecedented human rights crisis, in particular those related to accountability for past and current human rights violations and the release of all political prisoners. 

Their concerns were echoed by all NGOs who subsequently took the floor. Among them, 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Ales Bialiatski, Chairman of the organization Human Rights Center “Viasna”, delivered a statement denouncing the Belarusian authorities violent crackdown on peaceful protesters. He highlighted that more than 30.000 people have been detained since August 2020 and 2.400 criminal cases have been opened on trumped-up charges. Mr Bialiatski echoed some of the recommendations refused by Belarus, in particular calling on the authorities to fully cooperate with the UN Special Procedures, establish an accountability mechanism, and release all political prisoners. 

Read the full statement here

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Ambrazevich highlighted Belarus commitment to the implementation of recommendations related to socially oriented policies and in support of the vulnerable groups. Lastly, he reiterated that Belarus will not allow external political pressure to interfere with its domestic affairs.