346th Session of the ILO Governing Body, October 31 – November 10, 2022
Belarus – Consideration of any further measures, including those foreseen in the ILO Constitution, to secure compliance by the Government of Belarus with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry
Statement of the United States Government
Chair, for the past 18 years – despite repeated attempts at engagement by the ILO’s supervisory bodies – Belarusian authorities have made no meaningful progress toward full implementation of the Commission of Inquiry recommendations. Belarusian authorities have failed to fully implement the recommendations and have even rejected certain recommendations.
The situation for trade unionists in Belarus continues to deteriorate. We are deeply concerned that the Office has not been given access to ascertain the conditions of arrest and detention of the trade union leaders and members arrested for participating in peaceful assemblies or for otherwise exercising their fundamental freedoms – despite repeated requests to that effect, as well as the endorsement by the June 2022 International Labor Conference of the Committee on the Application of Standards’ recommendation that visitors, including officials of the ILO, be given access as a matter of urgency.
We call on the Lukashenka regime to end its egregious human and labor rights abuses – including arbitrary arrests, acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation against innocent Belarusians, including trade unionists exercising their human and labor rights.
We urge the immediate, unconditional release of all trade union leaders and members, and the over 1,300 political prisoners unjustly detained for participating in peaceful assemblies or for otherwise exercising their fundamental freedoms. We call in particular for the immediate and unconditional release of ILO Governing Body member Aliaksandr Yarashuk, as well as Siarhei Antusevich.
We are also deeply concerned by the Belarusian Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve independent trade unions. The regime’s actions have shown clear backsliding even from when this case was considered in June.
We appreciate the proposed next steps and look forward to receiving the document detailing options for measures under article 33 of the ILO Constitution, as well as other measures to secure compliance by Belarusian authorities with Belarus’s international obligations.
We fully support placing an item concerning measures under Article 33 of the ILO Constitution on the agenda of the 111th session of the International Labor Conference. We encourage the Office to expeditiously consider all economic, institutional, and other measures that could be taken to secure compliance by Belarusian authorities with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.
We also encourage the Director-General to reiterate the call for the immediate, unconditional release of trade union leaders and all others unjustly detained, and – by March 2023 – to contact other international organizations addressing the human rights situation in the country with a view toward coordinating actions aimed at seeking steps from the Belarusian authorities – in line with Belarus’s obligations deriving from membership of the respective organizations – and toward informing the options for measures under Article 33.
We must repudiate a Member State’s egregious and flagrant violation of the basic principles of this organization to safeguard and uphold labor rights, and we urge a united effort in this regard.
Chair, with these comments, we support the decision point.