HRC35: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus
As Delivered By Jessica Carl
Tuesday, June 14, 2017
Mr. Vice President,
The United States would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his update. Since Belarus was last addressed by this Council, the human rights situation has remained of deep concern and should continue to command our focused attention, which Mr. Haraszti also noted in his presentation. In our view, it is essential that this body continue to address the situation in Belarus, including by renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
It is unfortunate that the government of Belarus continues to refuse to cooperate with or grant access to the Special Rapporteur. We note from Mr. Haraszti’s current report and his remarks today that “the entrenched oppressive laws, which in the last decades have crystallized into a systemic denial of the enjoyment of civil freedoms, remained in force.”
We remain concerned by the Special Rapporteur’s reports that the government continues to block and punish expressions of dissent. For instance, harassment of journalists spiked sharply in the first months of this year in response to reporting on the March protests. The government’s continued restrictions on the operation of opposition political parties, civil society, and independent media are deeply troubling.
The government also severely restricts the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. We were alarmed by the government’s response in March 2017, when large, peaceful demonstrations swept through the country. These were met with arrests and arbitrary detention of more than 700 people.
We are also concerned that the October 2016 parliamentary elections were marred by significant irregularities and failed to meet Belarus’ international obligations and commitments.
Mr. Haraszti, what additional steps can the international community take to improve the human rights situation in Belarus?