General Statement at the adoption of the resolution entitled
“Situation of human rights in Belarus”
delivered by Ambassador Eileen Donahoe
Human Rights Council – 23rd Session
June 13, 2013
The United States is pleased to co-sponsor and vote in support of an HRC resolution expressing deep concern at the continuing systematic human rights violations in Belarus, and which underscores, yet again, the need for fundamental structural changes in that country. We deplore the impunity of perpetrators of these violations, the unsolved disappearances of political opponents, the continued existence of political prisoners and forced labor, and other human rights violations in Belarus. We strongly support the critical work of the Special Rapporteur in monitoring the human rights situation in Belarus and his efforts to assist the Government of Belarus to fulfill its human rights obligations. At the same time, we do not share the view that the death penalty equals inhumane treatment. We emphasize that the death penalty is not prohibited by international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a party, and that any decision to establish a moratorium or abolish the death penalty must be left to the people of Belarus to decide through domestic democratic processes. We reiterate the call for Belarus to undertake a comprehensive reform of its justice sector, so that Belarus respects its obligations, including in cases that involve the death penalty, when it comes to an independent judiciary, fair trial guarantees and effective appeals. We reiterate the call on the government of Belarus to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and to restore their full political rights.