Belarus reviewed under the UPR: pending recommendations on freedom of expression and association
Monday, 14 June 2010 13:38

In the afternoon of 12 May 2010, the Working Group on the UPR reviewed the human rights situation in Belarus. The small delegation was headed by Mr Mikhail Khvostov, the Permanent Representative in Geneva. Although the delegation included four other members, including three from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Khvostov was the only member to speak at any time during the review. Belarus’s introductory statement was used primarily to highlight successes and achievements made by the State both in terms of human rights and economic development, and included little in the way of self-criticism. The interactive dialogue was mostly dominated by mild recommendations and questions, with only a small handful of States commenting strongly on issues of substance. Issues that were raised repeatedly included:

  • Recommendations to continue substantial efforts to combat human trafficking, including appreciation for the setting up of an International Training Centre on Migration and Combating Human Trafficking
  • Belarus being the last State in Europe to apply the death penalty, with specific concerns over a lack of published statistics on convictions and executions, calls to establish a de jure moratorium on executions, and to ratify the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Concern over restrictions on freedom of expression and association, including stringent and complex registration procedures for civil society organisations, and criminalisation of the activities of non-registered organisations under the Law on Public Events
  • Rights of women, specifically unequal access to employment and a substantial pay gap between men and women
  • Rights of the child, specifically calls to ensure the provision of a ‘family environment’ for a number of children in State care
  • Calls for independent and impartial international monitoring of upcoming elections, as called for by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

Although Belarus took the opportunity to address contentious issues such as abolition of the death penalty, and the Law on Public Events, answers were defensive and referred repeatedly to constitutional guarantees and international obligations, rather than the application of these standards by the relevant authorities. The adoption of the draft report by the Working Group was uneventful, with Belarus accepting 55 recommendations. The remaining 38 recommendations were left pending, almost all with regards to freedom of association, abolition of the death penalty, and independent monitoring of elections. Belarus will reply to these recommendations at the September session of the Human Rights Council.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 07:49
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