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Ambassador Kelly on Human Rights Violations in Belarus
February 10, 2012

United States Mission to the OSCE
Statement on the Final Human Rights Assessment of the Events of
19 December 2010 in Minsk, Belarus

As delivered by Ambassador Ian Kelly to the Permanent Council, Vienna
February 9, 2012

The United States remains deeply concerned about serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.

Like the EU, we would like to bring to the Permanent Council’s attention to the Final Human Rights Assessment of the Events of 19 December 2010 in Minsk, Belarus.  This assessment was issued by Neil Jarman, the Special Rapporteur appointed by the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus.  He was assisted by a group of experts on freedom of assembly and police response measures from OSCE countries.

The following is a summary of the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions:

• The Final Assessment cites a lack of information from the Belarusian authorities about the police operation on December 19, 2010, to disperse peaceful protesters, as well as the absence of any inquiry into the accusations of a disproportionate use of force in the police response to the protests.  The Government of Belarus has also provided no information on the use of violence towards Vladimir Nekliaev, one of the presidential candidates, prior to the main demonstration.

• The report asserts that given the level of force used against people engaged in a peaceful demonstration in Independence Square, it would have been reasonable to expect the state authorities to investigate complaints about the police action.

• Analysis of the trials and prosecutions has highlighted a number of concerns about the abuse of human rights and the failure to uphold Belarus’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Similarly, the authorities have failed to investigate a number of complaints of maltreatment and physical abuse while in detention.

• The Government of Belarus has justified its police activities on December 19, 2010, as a necessary response to a violent attack on the Government House, but among the protestors convicted after the event, no one was implicated in any act of violence on that day.  Approximately half of those who faced charges or were convicted for the events of December 19 were part of the political opposition to Mr. Lukashenka.