- Category: Press Releases
- Published on Thursday, 12 July 2012 12:37
Johannesburg, 12 July 2012: Global civil society network CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcomes the recent UN Human Rights Council decision to address persistent and serious human rights violations in Belarus and Eritrea.
At the close of its 20th session last week, the Council adopted resolutions with broad support from member states condemning the deterioration of respect for fundamental freedoms in Belarus and Eritrea and establishing Special Rapporteurs on the two countries.The Council cited heightened restrictions on the freedoms of association, assembly and expression in Belarus and called on the Belarus Government to put an immediate end to the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and unconditionally release all political prisoners.
The resolution materialises at a particularly perilous time for civil society activists, as Belarusian human rights defenders and independent dissidents face unprecedented levels of official persecution. According to a 2011 investigation by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), approximately 40 opposition leaders, journalists and activists remain in prison on politically motivated charges following controversial national elections held in December 2010.
The resolution further establishes the mandate of a UN Special Rapporteur to monitor the situation of human rights in Belarus. The Special Rapporteur will be responsible for supporting and advising Belarusian civil society, while encouraging the government to implement its international human rights obligations.
The Council also condemned the Eritrean Government for widespread and systematic human rights violations. The Council noted with grave concern the forced conscription of citizens for indefinite periods of national service and the shoot-to-kill practices employed at the country’s borders.
In light of the near complete absence of an independent media, human rights groups and opposition political parties in Eritrea, the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor and report on the human rights situation is of added importance. Eritrea currently holds roughly 5,000 to 10,000 political prisoners and steadfastly refuses to cooperate with international and regional human rights mechanisms.
While the adoption of resolutions on Belarus and Eritrea represents a welcome step in promoting governments’ accountability for human rights violations, it is essential that the appointment of the Special Rapporteurs is met with adequate support and engagement. To this end, CIVICUS urges the Belarusian and Eritrean governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteurs, and further calls on UN member states to closely monitor the human rights situation in the two countries.