Belarus

 

  • Advocacy priorities at 47th Session of UN Human Rights Council

    The 47th Session is set to run from 21 June to 15 July, and will cover a number of critical thematic and country issues. Like all Sessions held over the course of the pandemic, it will present challenges and opportunities for civil society engagement. CIVICUS encourages States to continue to raise the importance of civil society participation, which makes the Human Rights Council stronger, more informed and more effective.

     

  • Belarus: CIVICUS condemns harsh verdict on human rights defenders

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, expresses serious concerns over the sentencing of Viasna human rights defenders, Maria Rabkova and Andrey Chapiuk by the Minsk City Court this afternoon. Maria and Andrey were both sentenced to 15 years and 6 years respectively following a trial marked by irregularities.  

     

  • Belarus: Letter to Permanent Representatives of Member & Observer States of the Human Rights Council

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council:

    Excellency,

    The Human Rights Council will consider the possible renewal of the mandate of the OHCHR examination of the human rights situation in Belarus at its 49th session.

    We, the undersigned national, international and Belarusian organisations, urge your delegation to support the renewal of this mandate, which is critical for maintaining scrutiny on Belarus’s human rights crisis.

    The human rights situation in Belarus which necessitated Council action in 2021 is deteriorating. There are continuing cases of arbitrary detention and arrest, torture and cruel,  inhuman, or degrading treatment, and unfair and closed trials on trumped-up charges against persons perceived by the authorities as being critical of the government.

    As of 1 February 2022, well over 1000 prisoners are recognized as “political prisoners” by the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna. However, the number of those detained for political reasons is much higher and might reach as many as 5,000. Torture and ill-treatment of those detained continue, with the objective of eliciting forced “confessions”, and punishing and silencing those carrying out human rights and civic activities. 

    In 2021, civil society came under prolonged systematic attack by the Belarusian authorities. The government liquidated at least 275 civil society organisations, including all independent human rights organisations. Authorities have initiated criminal cases against 13 human rights defenders, 12 of whom have been detained.

    Legislative amendments to the Criminal Code adopted in December 2021 re-introduced criminal liability for "acting on behalf of unregistered or liquidated organisations.” The liquidation of all independent human rights organisations by the authorities has therefore led to a de facto criminalisation of human rights work. Independent media also face systematic persecution, with journalists frequently being labelled as “extremist”, targeted under defamation charges, and blocked from publishing. At least 31 journalists and media workers remain behind bars on criminal charges and at least 22 lawyers have been disbarred by Belarusian authorities on political grounds or because of their representation of defendants in politically sensitive cases . In addition, Belarus is considering introducing criminal proceedings in absentia, with implications for those who have fled the country.

    Those who are subject to human rights violations in Belarus do not currently have any effective legal remedies or recourse to justice, and look to the United Nations Human Rights Council to ensure an accountability process for serious human rights violations.

    At the 46th session, the Human Rights Council mandated the OHCHR to conduct an examination. This was a welcome development given the widespread and systematic, human rights violations that occurred in Belarus in the context of 2020’s presidential election, and the environment of impunity and lack of accountability within which they occurred.

    Unfortunately, the OHCHR examination received only around 50 per cent of the budget for its work in 2021 against what was originally approved by the Council at HRC46. It became fully operational only in the final months of 2021. Despite these challenges, the OHCHR examination is still expected to provide a report to the Human Rights Council at the 49th session.

    Given the current dire human rights situation in Belarus, and the ongoing importance and unique nature of the OHCHR examination, we call on this Council to renew the mandate at HRC49, and ensure its work is sufficiently resourced and funded.

    Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration,

    Signed

    • Amnesty International
    • ARTICLE 19
    • The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
    • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    • Civil Rights Defenders
    • FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
    • Human Rights House Foundation
    • Human Rights Watch
    • IFEX
    • Index on Censorship
    • International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    • International Commission of Jurists 
    • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

    Civic space in Belarus is rated as "closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor . Belarus is also on the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist 

     

  • Belarus: More than 7000 peaceful protesters arrested and hundreds injured

    Statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Urgent debate on Belarus


    Madame President,

    We have watched with horror as riot police and law enforcement agencies have used brutal means to curtail peaceful protests in Belarus following disputed elections in August. More than 7,000 protesters have been arrested and more than 200 injured as the authorities use flash grenades, rubber bullets and in a few instances live ammunition against the peaceful protesters. Some detainees have reported torture. At least two people have died – one in police custody.

    We are deeply concerned that the authorities are also targeting journalists and media outlets to prevent the media from reporting on the protests and the violent response by the authorities. More than fifty journalists have been arrested in the different regions of the country; some have had their accreditation revoked. The authorities continue to censor media outlets. Protesters and human rights defenders have been subjected to smear campaigns.

    We are extremely concerned that despite the atrocities committed by the security forces, none have been investigated or held accountable for their actions while journalists and peaceful protesters have been wrongfully accused of attempting to destabilize Belarus. We stand in solidarity with human rights defenders, journalists and all those who seek to hold perpetrators of violence to account in the face of violence and suppression.

    In light of this, Madame President, we welcome this urgent debate, and we call on the Council to use its prevention mandate by acting strongly now, before the situation deteriorates still further. We urge the Council to support a strong Resolution that strongly condemns the human rights violations and calls for international scrutiny with a view to furthering accountability.

    The people of Belarus have a right to speak out without risking death and torture.


    Civic space in Belarus is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Belarus: Overview of recent restrictions to civic freedoms

    • Authorities increasingly categorise civil society personnel and groups as extremist, in a bid to invalidate and criminalise their work, and subject them to prosecution and banning
    • Over 765 CSOs liquidated since August 2020 as authorities leverage legislative changes to issue liquidation orders
    • More amendments to domestic laws made to create new offences that criminalise civil society and its work
    • Prosecution for 2020 election protests continues with the total number of political prisoners rising to 1,254 by 19 July 2022

    CIVICUS has produced a new research brief on the state of civic freedoms in Belarus. The repression of Belarusian civil society that followed disputed presidential elections in August 2020 continues relentlessly. Over the past year, the authorities have continued to charge and imprison thousands of protesters, designate civil society as ‘extremist’, disband civil society organisations (CSOs) and media outlets and amend laws to allow prosecution of activists who are outside Belarus.

    Civil Society Actors Targeted as Extremists

    Over the last year, the authorities in Belarus have used a range of tactics to intimidate and criminalise the work of civil society. As has been documented in several CIVICUS Monitor updates, the categorisation of civil society personnel and groups as 'extremist', in a bid to invalidate and criminalise their work, has become an increasingly common practice. Activists, journalists and independent media have been targeted with this classification, which subjects them to prosecution and being banned.

    765 CSOs Liquidated Since 2020

    The process of liquidating CSOs has continued over the past year in Belarus. As government authorities continue to accuse CSOs of extremist actions, as discussed above, they have leveraged legislative changes to issue liquidation orders. By May 2022, the number of liquidated CSOs reached 765. Of these, 448 were forcibly liquidated by the authorities and 317 decided to self-liquidate.

    Amendments to Law Further Rein in Activists

    Amendments to domestic law have been made over the last two years by the authorities in order to create new offences that criminalise civil society and its work. In May 2022, an amendment to the Criminal Code was tabled in parliament, which if passed will make it possible to prosecute people outside the country’s national borders.


    More information

    Download the Belarus research brief here.

     

  • Belarus: Release arrested journalist after forced emergency landing at Minsk Airport

    Journalist, Roman Protasevich is wanted by the government for broadcasting the government’s violent response to last year’s protests against Alexander Lukashenko

     

  • Belarusian authorities must end suppression of citizens, says CIVICUS

    Johannesburg. 19 May 2011. The recent detention of 14 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists in Minsk is just one more incident in an on-going crackdown on civil society in Belarus, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today. The arrests came as local LGBT groups were gathering in Minsk to commemorate the International Day of Anti-Homophobia on 17 May.

    According to one organiser, Sergei Androsenko, head of the organisation Gay Belarus, the protestors were planning to gather peacefully with the goal of spreading tolerance and understanding, but were detained pre-emptively by police before they could assemble. The fourteen detainees, including Androsenko, were taken to a local police precinct, where they were finger-printed, harassed with slurs and had some of their personal effects confiscated, including a thousand flyers advertising the campaign to ‘legalise love’, before being released.

     

  • Carta global en solidaridad con la sociedad civil de Belarús

    Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera.
    Pablo Neruda

    161 organizaciones de derechos humanos reivindicamos el fin de la represión contra el centro de derechos humanos Viasna y todas las demás personas defensoras de derechos humanos de Belarús. Condenamos las detenciones arbitrarias, las palizas y la tortura a que se las somete de forma sistemática. A pesar de la feroz represión ejercida por las autoridades de Belarús, las personas defensoras en el país continúan luchando para proteger los derechos humanos. Inspirándonos en su valentía, seguiremos luchando hasta que todas estén en libertad y puedan continuar con su labor de defensa de los derechos humanos libremente y sin restricciones.

    A lo largo de los últimos días, hemos sido testigos de una nueva ola de redadas y detenciones de activistas y personas defensoras de derechos humanos. Se trata de una evidente represalia por su trabajo de denuncia y documentación de las violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas desde la brutal represión de las protestas pacíficas organizadas tras las elecciones de agosto de 2020. Desde agosto de 2020 se ha detenido a más de 35.000 belarusos por participar en protestas pacíficas, se han abierto unos 3000 procedimientos penales por motivos políticos y se han documentado al menos 2500 casos de tortura ejercida contra belarusos. Creemos que este contexto de violaciones de derechos humanos sistemáticas y generalizadas podría ser constitutivo de crímenes de lesa humanidad. Se calcula que, a 19 de julio de 2021, había 561 presos políticos en Belarús.

    Entre el 14 y el 16 de julio de 2021, se registraron más de 60 viviendas y oficinas de organizaciones belarusas de derechos humanos y de sus empleados, incluyendo el centro de derechos humanos Viasna, dos organizaciones miembros del Comité Internacional para la Investigación de la Tortura en Belarús (Human Constanta y Legal Initiative), el Comité Helsinki de Belarús, la Asociación Belarusa de Periodistas, el Legal Transformation Center (LawTrend) y Ecodom, entre muchas otras. En los registros, las autoridades se incautaron de equipos informáticos como portátiles, teléfonos móviles y ordenadores.

    Durante esta última ola de registros, se interrogó a más de 30 personas, 13 de las cuales estuvieron privadas de libertad durante 72 horas, presuntamente por su relación con una investigación de delitos contra el orden público y evasión fiscal. Posteriormente, se puso en libertad a la mayoría, entre ellos Mikalai Sharakh, Siarhei Matskievich y los miembros de Viasna Andrei Paluda, Alena Laptsionak, Yauheniya Babaeva, Siarhei Sys, Viktar Sazonau, Ales Kaputski y Andrei Medvedev. Sin embargo, algunas personas siguen teniendo prohibido viajar y se enfrentan a acusaciones penales. Continúan privados de libertad Ales Bialiatsky, Presidente de Viasna, Valiantsin Stefanovic, Director Adjunto de Viasna y Vicepresidente de la FIDH, y Uladzimir Labkovich, abogado y miembro de Viasna. El 17 de julio se los trasladó a al centro de detención preventiva de Valadarskaha. Otros cuatro miembros de Viasna (Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, Marfa RabkovaAndrey Chapyuk), así como Aleh Hrableuski, de la Oficina para los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad, están en prisión preventiva desde finales de 2020 o inicios de 2021.

    Viasna, una de las principales organizaciones de derechos humanos del país y miembro de las redes de la OMCT y la FIDH, lleva más de dos décadas en el punto de mira del gobierno de Belarús. En agosto de 2011, el presidente de la organización Ales Bialiatsky fue condenado a cuatro años y medio de prisión con acusaciones falsas; fue finalmente puesto en libertad en junio de 2014, después de pasar 1052 días privado de libertad de forma arbitraria y en condiciones desoladoras. Como represalia al valiente trabajo de Viasna y a su inquebrantable defensa de los derechos humanos, las autoridades de Belarús han encarcelado a siete de sus miembros para intentar destruir la organización.

    Las redadas comenzaron solo un día después de que el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas adoptase una resolución condenando la situación de los derechos humanos en Belarús en la que exigía la puesta en libertad de todas las personas detenidas arbitrariamente y una investigación de las denuncias de tortura y de otras violaciones de derechos humanos.

    Los días 8, 9 y 16 de julio de 2021, las autoridades también registraron las viviendas y las instalaciones de varios medios de comunicación independientes y de sus empleados, incluyendo Nasha Niva, uno de los periódicos independientes más antiguos del país, y detuvieron a tres de sus periodistas. Las autoridades registraron también las oficinas de RFE/Radio Liberty y Belsat, el mayor canal de televisión independiente de Belarús, y detuvieron a varios de sus periodistas. Actualmente, más de 30 trabajadores de medios de comunicación y decenas de blogueros continúan privados de libertad.

    Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil firmantes condenamos las graves violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por las autoridades de Belarús, y creemos que podrían dar lugar a más violencia. La última ola de represión se une a la brutal campaña de los últimos meses para demostrar que el objetivo de las autoridades es que todas las personas defensoras de derechos humanos estén privadas de libertad o exiliadas.

    Nos solidarizamos con nuestros compañeros y amigos privados de libertad, hostigados y perseguidos a causa de su valiente trabajo. Nos preocupa y entristece enormemente su lucha, pero su compromiso y su resistencia nos inspiran.

    Instamos a las autoridades de Belarús a poner fin al hostigamiento y la intimidación de las voces críticas y a poner en libertad a todas las personas defensoras de derechos humanos, periodistas y activistas a quienes se ha privado de libertad injustamente.

    Instamos a la comunidad internacional a posicionarse rotundamente en favor de la comunidad de derechos humanos de Belarús y a alzar la voz para pedir la liberación de quienes siguen entre rejas y cuyo único delito ha sido reivindicar una sociedad basada en la justicia y no en el miedo.

    Organizaciones firmantes

    1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran - Irán
    2. ACAT Belgique - Bélgica
    3. ACAT Burundi - Burundi
    4. ACAT España-Catalunya (Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la Tortura) - España
    5. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) - Alemania
    6. ACAT Italia - Italia
    7. ACAT République Centrafricaine – República Centroafricana
    8. ACAT République Démocratique du Congo – República Democrática del Congo
    9. ACAT Suisse - Suiza
    10. ACAT Tchad - Chad
    11. ACAT Togo - Togo
    12. Action Against Violence and Exploitation (ACTVE) - Filipinas
    13. Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda (ACADHOSHA) - República Democrática del Congo
    14. Advocacy Forum – Nepal - Nepal
    15. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains - Francia
    16. Albanian Human Rights Group
    17. ALTSEAN-Burma - Myanmar
    18. Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) – Malasia / Asia-Pacífico
    19. Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial - Bélgica
    20. ARTICLE 19
    21. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights - Indonesia
    22. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) - Filipinas
    23. Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) - Honduras
    24. Asociación pro derechos humanos (Aprodeh) - Perú
    25. Association Mauritanienne des droits de l'homme (AMDH-Mauritanieuri) - Mauritania
    26. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) - India
    27. Association Tchadienne pour la promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH) - Chad
    28. Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates - Túnez
    29. Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) - Francia
    30. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) - India
    31. Belarusian-Swiss Association RAZAM.CH - Suiza
    32. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee - Bulgaria
    33. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) - Camboya
    34. Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) - Australia
    35. Center for Civil Liberties - Ucrania
    36. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) – Estados Unidos
    37. Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), University of York – Reino Unido
    38. Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (CDDHR) - Rusia
    39. Centro de Derechos humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.c. (Frayba) - México
    40. Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte - México
    41. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH) - Honduras
    42. Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Victimas de la Tortura y sus familiares (CPTRT) - Honduras
    43. Centro de Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos (CINTRAS) - Chile
    44. Changement Social Bénin (CSB) - Benín
    45. CIVICUS
    46. Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) - Suecia
    47. Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH-RD) – República Dominicana
    48. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH) - Burkina Faso
    49. Coalition Marocaine contre la Peine de Mort - Marruecos
    50. Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort - Túnez
    51. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT) - Togo
    52. Comisión de derechos humanos – COMISEDH - Perú
    53. Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) - Honduras
    54. Comité de solidaridad con los presos políticos (FCSPP) - Colombia
    55. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) – Irlanda del Norte (Reino Unido)
    56. Crude Accountability – Estados Unidos
    57. Czech League of Human Rights – República Checa
    58. Death Penalty Focus (DPF) – Estados Unidos
    59. Defenders of human rights centre - Irán
    60. DEMAS - Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights – República Checa
    61. DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights - Botsuana
    62. Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) - Bélgica
    63. Eleos Justice, Monash University - Australia
    64. Enfants Solidaires d'Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) - Benín
    65. Federal Association of Vietnam-Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany - Alemania
    66. FIDU - Italian Federation for Human Rights - Italia
    67. Finnish League for Human Rights - Finlandia
    68. Free Press Unlimited – Países Bajos
    69. Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) - Ecuador
    70. GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women - Filipinas
    71. German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP) - Alemania
    72. Greek Helsinki Monitor - Grecia
    73. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly – Vanadzor - Armenia
    74. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Polonia
    75. Citizens' Watch Russia
    76. Human Rights Alert - India
    77. Human Rights Association (İHD) – Turquía
    78. Human Rights Center (HRC) - Georgia
    79. Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" - Rusia
    80. Human Rights House Foundation
    81. Human Rights in China (HRIC) – Estados Unidos
    82. Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) - Lituania
    83. Human Rights Mouvement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” - Kirguistán
    84. Human Rights Organization of Nepal - Nepal
    85. Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) - Grecia
    86. Hungarian Helsinki Committee – Hungría
    87. IDP Women Association "Consent" - Georgia
    88. Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenia
    89. Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR) - Uruguay
    90. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Kenyan Section - Kenia
    91. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - Francia
    92. International Legal Initiative - Kazakhstan
    93. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - Belgium
    94. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - Switzerland
    95. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society - India
    96. JANANEETHI - India
    97. Justice for Iran (JFI) - United Kingdom
    98. Justícia i Pau - Spain
    99. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law - Kazajistán
    100. Kharkiv Regional Foundation "Public Alternative" - Ucrania
    101. La Strada International – Países Bajos
    102. La Voix des Sans Voix pour les Droits de l'Homme (VSV) – República Democrática del Congo
    103. Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC) - Letonia
    104. Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights YUCOM - Serbia
    105. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) - Irán
    106. Legal Policy Research Centre (LPRC) - Kazajistán
    107. Libereco Partnership of Human Rights – Alemania / Suiza
    108. LICADHO - Camboya
    109. Lifespark - Suiza
    110. Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos - Civitas (LPDHC) - Portugal
    111. Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (LvRM) (Dutch League for Human Rights) – Países Bajos
    112. Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH) - Francia
    113. Ligue Tchadienne des droits de l'Homme - Chad
    114. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) - Maldivas
    115. Martin Ennals Foundation - Suiza
    116. Minority Rights Group - Grecia
    117. Mouvance des Abolitionnistes du Congo Brazzaville - Congo Brazzaville
    118. Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH) – Costa de Marfil
    119. Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme - Laos
    120. Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (MNDH) - Brasil
    121. Netherlands Helsinki Committee – Países Bajos
    122. Norwegian Helsinki Committee - Noruega
    123. Observatoire du système pénal et des droits humains (OSPDH) - España
    124. Observatoire Marocain des prisons - Marruecos
    125. Odhikar - Bangladesh
    126. OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr - Francia
    127. Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie (OCTT) - Túnez
    128. Organisation Guineenne de Defense des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH) - Guinea
    129. Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte ÖLFMR - Austria
    130. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - Palestina
    131. Pax Christi Uvira – República Democrática del Congo
    132. People's Watch India
    133. Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) - Venezuela
    134. Promo LEX Association - República de Moldavia
    135. Protection International (PI)
    136. Public Association "Dignity" - Kazajistán
    137. Public Association Spravedlivost Human Rights Organization - Kirguistán
    138. Public Verdict Foundation - Rusia
    139. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme RADDHO - Senegal
    140. Repecap Academics - España
    141. Réseau des Defenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) - Camerún
    142. Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) - Haití
    143. Rights Realization Centre – Reino Unido
    144. Rural People's Sangam - India
    145. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights – Reino Unido, Líbano, Bahrein
    146. Social-Strategic Researches and Analytical Investigations Public Union (SSRAIPU) - Azerbaiyán
    147. SOHRAM-CASRA - Centre Action Sociale Réhabilitation et Réadaptation pour les Victimes de la Torture, de la guerre et de la violence - Turquía
    148. SOS-Torture/Burundi - Burundi
    149. SUARAM - Malasia
    150. Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l'education du Niger (SYNAFEN NIGER) - Níger
    151. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) - Filipinas
    152. Thai Action Committee for Democaracy in Burma (TACDB) - Tailandia
    153. The Advocates for Human Rights – Estados Unidos
    154. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (BHRH) - Lituania
    155. The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) - Indonesia
    156. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
    157. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights - Estados Unidos
    158. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) - Francia
    159. World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) - Francia
    160. World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - Suiza
    161. Xumek asociación para la promoción y protección de los derechos humanos - Argentina

    El espacio cívico en Bielorrusia se considera Represivo por el CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • CIVICUS and the Eurasia Network condembelarus

    21 December 2010.JOHANNESBURG. South Africa.CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the Eurasia Network condemn the recent crackdown of Belarusian government authorities on election monitoring personnel, opposition party leaders and protestors during and immediately following the 19 December 2010 Belarusian presidential elections.  We call on all OSCE member countries, including Belarus, to abide by its commitments to OSCE founding principles safeguarding the right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.

    According to the Belarus Helsinki Committee, at approximately 3:15 a.m. on 20 December, government personnel arrested ten members of the Viasna Human Rights Center in central Minsk, detaining lawyers - including Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich - who were in the process of analysing data from 600 election observers from across the country. The previous night, the Chairman of Belarus Helsinki Committee, Aleh Hulak, was also arrested and detained by security personnel during a post-election demonstration in Nezavisimosti Square. According to human rights monitors, 634 were detained, many of whom have either been sentenced to jail, or are currently standing trial. Among the arrested are seven presidential candidates. 

    While the OSCE called the election 'flawed' at a news conference, Belarus President Lukashenko condemned the peaceful demonstrations and defended the mass arrests.

    "You saw how our law-enforcers behaved. They stood firm and acted exclusively within the bounds of the law. They defended the country and people from barbarism and ruin," Lukashenko said at a Minsk press conference.

    CIVICUS and the Eurasia Network call upon the OSCE to "insure effectively the rights of the individual to know and act upon human rights and fundamental freedoms"as agreed by all parties to the 1991 Copenhagen Document, and to halt the erosion of civil rights as put forward in the Outcome Document of Civil Society Parallel Conference held in Astana, Kazakhstan three weeks ago. We also echo local and international civil society's calls for the Belarusian authorities to annul the results of an election where the OSCE and other monitoring bodies sited mass fraud, intimidation and violence.  

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world. CIVICUS will continue to engage on this issue and other initiatives to defend the space for civil society around the world.
     


    For more information please contact:
    Adam Nord ( ), CIVICUS' Lobby and Engagement Manager,
    Tel +27 11 8335959 (ext 108)
    Or
    Rowena McNaughton ( ), CIVICUS' Media Officer,
    Tel: +27 11 8335959 (ext 125

     

  • CIVICUS calls on Belarus to adopt Universal Periodic Review recommendations on the Freedom of Association

    Geneva. 13 May 2010. Yesterday, the Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Belarus at the United Nations Human Rights Council resonated with civil society concerns regarding severe restrictions on the freedom of association. 

    A number of fundamental rights violations, including against the freedom of association were highlighted during the session, especially with respect to the infamous Criminal Code Article 193.1, which criminalises participation in activities of non-registered associations as being punishable by up to two years in prison. Since its entry into force in 2006, 17 people, including several minors, have been convicted under this legal provision. Not only does this provision run contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but it also violates the Constitution of Belarus. 

     

  • Civil Society Organisations call for the immediate operationalisation of the HRC’s new mandate on Belarus

    Resolution on Belarus adopted at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • Countries on CIVICUS Monitor watchlist presented to UN Human Rights Council

    Statement at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

    Thank you, Madame President.

    A number of countries have experienced serious and rapid decline in respect for civic freedoms in the last months. We call upon the Council to do everything in their power to immediately end the ongoing civic space crackdowns which are a foreshadowing of worse violations to come.

    In Afghanistan, against a backdrop of deepening human rights, humanitarian and economic crisis, activists face systematic intimidation and are at grave risk. The Taliban are carrying out house-to-house searches for activists and journalists, and have responded with excessive force, gunfire and beatings to disperse peaceful protests, leading to deaths and injuries of peaceful protesters. The Council previously failed to take swift action to establish a monitoring and accountability mechanism. We urge it to remedy this missed opportunity now.

    In Belarus, attacks on human rights defenders and independent journalists have intensified, against the backdrop of recent draconian changes to the Mass Media Law and to the Law on Mass Events which were adopted in May 2021. We call on the Council to ensure that arbitrarily detained human rights defenders are released, and perpetrators of violations are held to account.

    Since the end of May, Nicaragua’s authorities have carried out a further crackdown on civil society and the opposition. Dozens of political leaders and human rights defenders were arrested and prosecuted as the government acted to silence critics and opponents ahead of presidential elections in November, a context which renders free and fair elections impossible. It is essential that the Council escalates its international scrutiny of Nicaragua to further accountability and justice for crimes under international law.

    We thank you.

    Civic space in Afghanistan, Belarus and Nicaragua is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor 

     

  • Global Letter in solidarity with Belarusian civil society

    Russian | Belarusian

    ‘You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep the Spring from coming’
    Pablo Neruda

    161 human rights organisations demand an end to the repression against the Human Rights Center Viasna and all other human rights defenders in Belarus. We condemn the systematic arbitrary arrests, beatings and acts of torture they are subjected to. Despite all-out repression by the Belarusian authorities, human rights defenders in Belarus continue to strive to protect human rights. Inspired by their courage, we will not stop fighting until they are all released and able to continue their human rights work freely and unhindered.

    Over the past few days, we have witnessed another wave of raids and detentions against Belarusian human rights defenders and activists. This repression is a blatant retaliation for their work denouncing and documenting human rights violations ongoing since the brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters in the wake of the August 2020 election. Since August 2020, more than 35,000 Belarusians were arrested for participating in peaceful protests, around 3,000 politically motivated criminal cases were initiated, at least 2,500 cases of torture of Belarusian citizens were documented. We believe these systematic and widespread human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity. As of July 19, 561 persons in Belarus are considered political prisoners.

    Between July 14 and 16, 2021, more than 60 searches were conducted at the homes and offices of Belarusian human rights organisations and their staff, including the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’, two member organisations of the International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus, Human Constanta and Legal Initiative, as well as the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Legal Transformation Center LawTrend, Ecodom and many others. Documents and IT equipment, including laptops, mobile phones and computers were seized during the searches.

    During these latest raids, more than 30 people were interrogated. 13 of them were detained for a 72-hour period, reportedly in connection to an investigation into public order violations and tax evasion. Most of them were subsequently released, namely, Mikalai Sharakh, Siarhei Matskievich, and Viasna members Andrei Paluda, Alena Laptsionak, Yauheniya Babaeva, Siarhei Sys, Viktar Sazonau, Ales Kaputski and Andrei Medvedev. Several of them, however, remain under travel ban and face criminal charges. Notably, Ales Bialiatsky, Viasna Chairperson Valiantsin Stefanovic, Viasna Deputy Head and Vice-President of the FIDH, and Uladzimir Labkovich, a lawyer and Viasna member, remain detained. On July 17, all four were transferred to a pre-trial detention center “Valadarskaha”. Four other Viasna members Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, Marfa Rabkova and Andrey Chapyuk, as well as Aleh Hrableuski of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, remain in pre-trial detention since late 2020 or early 2021.

    Viasna, one of the country’s top human rights organisations, and a member of the OMCT and FIDH networks, has been targeted by the Belarusian government for over two decades. In August 2011, its chairperson Ales Bialiatsky was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment on trumped-up charges, and released in June 2014 after spending 1,052 days in arbitrary detention in appalling conditions. In retaliation for Viasna’s courageous work and unwavering stance for human rights, the Belarusian authorities are trying to destroy the organisation by putting seven of its members behind bars.

    The raids started only one day after the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the situation of human rights in Belarus, demanding the release of all persons arbitrarily detained and an investigation into allegations of torture and other human rights violations.

    On July 8-9 and July 16, 2021, the authorities also raided the homes and premises of various independent media outlets and their staff, including ‘Nasha Niva’, one of country’s oldest independent newspaper, and detained three of its journalists. The offices of RFE/Radio Liberty and Belsat, the largest independent TV channel covering Belarus, were also searched, and several of their journalists were detained. As of now, over 30 media workers and dozens of bloggers remain in detention.

    We, the undersigned civil society organisations, condemn the massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Belarusian authorities, which we fear may trigger more violence. This latest wave of repression, together with the brutal crackdown over the last months, demonstrates that the authorities aim at having every human rights defender either detained or exiled.

    We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and friends who are detained, harassed, and persecuted for their brave work. We regard their struggle with great concern and sorrow, and we are inspired by their commitment and resilience.

    We urge the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment and intimidation of critical voices, and to free all unjustly detained human rights defenders, journalists and activists.

    We call on the international community to take a strong stance in support of the Belarusian human rights community, and to speak out for the release of all those who are still behind bars, and whose only crime is to demand a society based on justice instead of fear.

    Signatories

    1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran - Iran
    2. ACAT Belgique - Belgium
    3. ACAT Burundi - Burundi
    4. ACAT España-Catalunya (Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la Tortura) - Spain
    5. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) - Germany
    6. ACAT Italia - Italy
    7. ACAT République Centrafricaine - Central African Republic
    8. ACAT République Démocratique du Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo
    9. ACAT Suisse - Switzerland
    10. ACAT Tchad - Tchad
    11. ACAT Togo - Togo
    12. Action Against Violence and Exploitation (ACTVE) - Philippines
    13. Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda (ACADHOSHA) - Democratic Republic of Congo
    14. Advocacy Forum – Nepal - Nepal
    15. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains - France
    16. Albanian Human Rights Group
    17. ALTSEAN-Burma - Myanmar
    18. Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) - Malaysia/Asia-Pacific
    19. Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial - Belgium
    20. ARTICLE 19
    21. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights - Indonesia
    22. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) - Philippines
    23. Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) - Honduras
    24. Asociación pro derechos humanos (Aprodeh) - Peru
    25. Association Mauritanienne des droits de l'homme (AMDH-Mauritanieuri) - Mauritania
    26. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) - India
    27. Association Tchadienne pour la promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH) - Tchad
    28. Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates - Tunisia
    29. Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) - France
    30. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) - India
    31. Belarusian-Swiss Association RAZAM.CH - Switzerland
    32. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee - Bulgaria
    33. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) - Cambodia
    34. Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) - Australia
    35. Center for Civil Liberties - Ukraine
    36. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) - United States of America
    37. Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), University of York - United Kingdom
    38. Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (CDDHR) - Russia
    39. Centro de Derechos humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.c. (Frayba) - Mexico
    40. Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte - Mexico
    41. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH) - Honduras
    42. Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Victimas de la Tortura y sus familiares (CPTRT) - Honduras
    43. Centro de Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos (CINTRAS) - Chile
    44. Changement Social Bénin (CSB) - Benin
    45. CIVICUS
    46. Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) - Sweden
    47. Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH-RD) - Dominican Republic
    48. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH) - Burkina Faso
    49. Coalition Marocaine contre la Peine de Mort - Morocco
    50. Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort - Tunisia
    51. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT) - Togo
    52. Comisión de derechos humanos – COMISEDH - Peru
    53. Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) - Honduras
    54. Comité de solidaridad con los presos políticos (FCSPP) - Colombia
    55. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) - Northern Ireland (UK)
    56. Crude Accountability - United States of America
    57. Czech League of Human Rights Czech Republic
    58. Death Penalty Focus (DPF) - United States of America
    59. Defenders of human rights centre - Iran
    60. DEMAS - Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights - Czech Republic
    61. DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights - Botswana
    62. Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) - Belgium
    63. Eleos Justice, Monash University - Australia
    64. Enfants Solidaires d'Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) - Benin
    65. Federal Association of Vietnam-Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany - Germany
    66. FIDU - Italian Federation for Human Rights - Italy
    67. Finnish League for Human Rights - Finland
    68. Free Press Unlimited - The Netherlands
    69. Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) - Ecuador
    70. GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women - Philippines
    71. German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP) - Germany
    72. Greek Helsinki Monitor Greece
    73. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly – Vanadzor - Armenia
    74. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Poland
    75. Citizens' Watch Russia
    76. Human Rights Alert - India
    77. Human Rights Association (İHD) - Turkey
    78. Human Rights Center (HRC) - Georgia
    79. Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" - Russia
    80. Human Rights House Foundation
    81. Human Rights in China (HRIC) - USA
    82. Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) - Lithuania
    83. Human Rights Mouvement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” - Kyrgyzstan
    84. Human Rights Organization of Nepal - Nepal
    85. Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) - Greece
    86. Hungarian Helsinki Committee - Hungary
    87. IDP Women Association "Consent" - Georgia
    88. Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenya
    89. Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR) - Uruguay
    90. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Kenyan Section - Kenya
    91. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - France
    92. International Legal Initiative - Kazakhstan
    93. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - Belgium
    94. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - Switzerland
    95. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society - India
    96. JANANEETHI - India
    97. Justice for Iran (JFI) - United Kingdom
    98. Justícia i Pau - Spain
    99. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law - Kazakhstan
    100. Kharkiv Regional Foundation "Public Alternative" - Ukraine
    101. La Strada International - The Netherlands
    102. La Voix des Sans Voix pour les Droits de l'Homme (VSV) - Democratic Republic of Congo
    103. Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC) - Latvia
    104. Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights YUCOM - Serbia
    105. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) - Iran
    106. Legal Policy Research Centre (LPRC) - Kazakhstan
    107. Libereco Partnership of Human Rights - Germany/ Switzerland
    108. LICADHO - Cambodia
    109. Lifespark - Switzerland
    110. Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos - Civitas (LPDHC) - Portugal
    111. Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (LvRM) (Dutch League for Human Rights) - The Netherlands
    112. Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH) - France
    113. Ligue Tchadienne des droits de l'Homme - Tchad
    114. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) - Maldives
    115. Martin Ennals Foundation - Switzerland
    116. Minority Rights Group - Greece
    117. Mouvance des Abolitionnistes du Congo Brazzaville - Congo Brazzaville
    118. Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH) - Côte d'Ivoire
    119. Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme - Laos
    120. Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (MNDH) - Brazil
    121. Netherlands Helsinki Committee - The Netherlands
    122. Norwegian Helsinki Committee - Norway
    123. Observatoire du système pénal et des droits humains (OSPDH) - Spain
    124. Observatoire Marocain des prisons - Morocco
    125. Odhikar - Bangladesh
    126. OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr - France
    127. Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie (OCTT) - Tunisie
    128. Organisation Guineenne de Defense des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH) - Guinea
    129. Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte ÖLFMR - Austria
    130. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - Palestine
    131. Pax Christi Uvira - Democratic Republic of Congo
    132. People's Watch India
    133. Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) - Venezuela
    134. Promo LEX Association - Republic of Moldova
    135. Protection International (PI)
    136. Public Association "Dignity" - Kazakhstan
    137. Public Association Spravedlivost Human Rights Organization - Kyrgyzstan
    138. Public Verdict Foundation - Russia
    139. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme RADDHO - Senegal
    140. Repecap Academics - Spain
    141. Réseau des Defenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) - Cameroon
    142. Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) - Haïti
    143. Rights Realization Centre - UK
    144. Rural People's Sangam - India
    145. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights - UK, Lebanon, Bahrain
    146. Social-Strategic Researches and Analytical Investigations Public Union (SSRAIPU) - Azerbaijan
    147. SOHRAM-CASRA - Centre Action Sociale Réhabilitation et Réadaptation pour les Victimes de la Torture, de la guerre et de la violence - Turquie
    148. SOS-Torture/Burundi - Burundi
    149. SUARAM - Malaysia
    150. Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l'education du Niger (SYNAFEN NIGER) - Niger
    151. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) - Philippines
    152. Thai Action Committee for Democaracy in Burma (TACDB) - Thailand
    153. The Advocates for Human Rights - United States of America
    154. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (BHRH) - Lithuania
    155. The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) - Indonesia
    156. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
    157. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights United States of America
    158. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) - France
    159. World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) - France
    160. World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - Switzerland
    161. Xumek asociación para la promoción y protección de los derechos humanos - Argentina

    Civic space in Belarus is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Lettre internationale de soutien à la société civile bélarusse

    « Ils pourront couper toutes les fleurs, ils n’empêcheront pas le printemps »
    Pablo Neruda

    161 organisations de défense des droits humains appellent à la fin de la répression à l’encontre du Centre des droits humains Viasna et de tou.te.s les autres défenseur.e.s des droits humains au Bélarus. Nous condamnons les arrestations arbitraires systématiques, les coups et blessures et les actes de torture dont ils font l’objet. Malgré la répression totale exercée par les autorités bélarusses, les défenseurs des droits humains au Belarus continuent de lutter pour les droits de leur communauté. Inspirés par leur courage, nous ne cesserons de nous battre jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient toutes et tous libéré.es et puissent poursuivre leur travail de défense des droits humains librement et sans entrave.

    Au cours des derniers jours, nous avons assisté à une nouvelle vague de perquisitions et à l’arrestation de douzaines de membres de l’éminente organisation de défense des droits humains Viasna, et d’autres défenseurs des droits humains et militant·e·s bélarusses. Cette répression intervient en représailles de la dénonciation des violations de droits humains commises depuis la violente répression des manifestants pacifiques en août 2020. Depuis cette période, plus de 35 000 Bélarusses ont été arrêté.es pour avoir participé à des manifestations pacifiques, environ 3 000 instructions pénales ont été ouvertes pour des motifs politiques et au moins 2 500 cas de torture de citoyens bélarusses ont été documentés. Nous estimons que ces violations systématiques et généralisées des droits humains peuvent s’apparenter à des crimes contre l’humanité. En date du 19 juillet, 561 personnes étaient considérées comme des prisonnier·e·s politiques au Bélarus.

    Entre le 14 et le 16 juillet 2021, plus de 60 perquisitions ont été réalisées au domicile et dans les bureaux de plusieurs organisations de défense des droits humains du Bélarus et de leur personnel, dont le Centre de défense des droits humains Viasna, deux organisations membres du Comité international d’enquête sur la torture au Bélarus, ‘Human Constanta’ et ‘Legal Initiative’, ainsi que le Comité Helsinki du Bélarus, l’Association bélarusse des journalistes, le Centre de transformation juridique ‘LawTrend’, ‘Ecodom’ et bien d’autres encore. Des documents et du matériel informatique, y compris des ordinateurs portables, des téléphones portables et des ordinateurs de bureau ont été saisis au cours de ces perquisitions.

    Au total, plus de 30 personnes ont été interrogées. 13 d’entre elles ont été détenues pendant 72 heures, officiellement dans le cadre d’une enquête pour troubles à l’ordre public et évasion fiscale. La plupart a ensuite été libérée, dont Mikalai Sharakh, Siarhei Matskievich, et les membres de Viasna Andrei Paluda, Alena Laptsionak, Yauheniya Babaeva, Siarhei Sys, Viktar Sazonau, Ales Kaputski et Andrei Medvedev. Plusieurs d’entre eux restent toutefois frappés d’une interdiction de sortie du territoire et ont été mis en examen. Ales Bialiatsky, le président de Viasna, Valiantsin Stefanovic, vice-président de Viasna et vice-président de la FIDH, et Uladzimir Labkovich, un avocat et membre de Viasna, restent par ailleurs toujours en détention. Le 17 juillet, ces quatre militants ont été transférés vers le centre de détention provisoire ‘Valadarskaha’. Quatre autres membres de Viasna, Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, Marfa Rabkova et Andrey Chapyuk, ainsi qu’Aleh Hrableuski, du Bureau de défense des droits des personnes en situation de handicap, sont quant à eux en détention provisoire depuis fin 2020 / début 2021.

    Viasna, l’une des organisations de défense des droits humains du pays, membre des réseaux de l’OMCT et de la FIDH, a été visée par le gouvernement du Bélarus pendant plus de vingt ans. En août 2011, son président Ales Bialiatsky avait été condamné à quatre ans et demi de prison sur base d’accusations montées de toutes pièces, puis libéré en juin 2014, après avoir passé 1 052 jours en détention arbitraire dans de terribles conditions. En guise de représailles pour le travail courageux et la position inébranlable de Viasna en faveur des droits humains, les autorités du Bélarus s’efforcent à nouveau de détruire l’organisation en mettant sept de ses membres derrière des barreaux.

    Les attaques ont commencé dès le lendemain de l’adoption par le Conseil des droits de l’Homme des Nations unies de la résolution condamnant la situation des droits humains au Bélarus, exigeant la libération de toutes les personnes détenues arbitrairement et une enquête sur les cas allégués de torture et d’autres violations de droits humains.

    Les 8, 9 et 16 juillet 2021, les autorités ont perquisitionné les domiciles et les locaux de plusieurs médias indépendants et de leur personnel, dont Nasha Niva, l’un des plus anciens journaux indépendants du pays, et arrêté trois de ses journalistes. Les bureaux de RFE/ Radio Liberty et Belsat, la plus grande chaîne de télévision indépendante couvrant le Bélarus, ont également fait l’objet d’une perquisition, et plusieurs de leurs journalistes ont été arrêtés. A l’heure actuelle, 30 professionnels des médias et des douzaines de blogueur·se·s sont encore en détention.

    Nous, les organisations de la société civile soussignées, condamnons la voie de la violence et les violations massives des droits humains perpétrées par les autorités du Bélarus qui pourraient, nous le craignons, provoquer encore davantage de violence. Cette dernière vague de persécutions, associée à la répression brutale des derniers mois, montre que les autorités ont pour objectif d’arrêter ou de contraindre à l’exil tou·te·s les défenseur·e·s des droits humains du pays.

    Nous exprimons notre solidarité vis-à-vis de nos collègues et nos ami·e·s détenu·e·s, harcelé·e·s et persécuté·e·s en raison de leur travail courageux. C’est avec grande tristesse et préoccupation que nous assistons à ce qu’il·elle·s doivent endurer. Nous sommes profondément inspiré·e·s par leur engagement et leur résilience.

    Nous exhortons les autorités du Bélarus à cesser le harcèlement et l’intimidation des voix critiques, et à libérer tou·te·s les défenseur·e·s des droits humains, journalistes et militant·e·s.

    Nous appelons la communauté internationale à soutenir avec force les défenseur·e·s des droits humains du Bélarus, à dénoncer publiquement cette situation et à exiger la libération de ceux·celles qui sont encore derrière des barreaux et dont le seul crime est d’avoir exigé des changements et une société basée sur la justice plutôt que sur la peur.

    Signataires

    1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran - Iran
    2. ACAT Belgique - Belgique
    3. ACAT Burundi - Burundi
    4. ACAT España-Catalunya (Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la Tortura) - Espagne
    5. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) - Germany
    6. ACAT Italia - Italie
    7. ACAT République Centrafricaine – République centrafricaine
    8. ACAT République Démocratique du Congo – République démocratique du Congo
    9. ACAT Suisse - Suisse
    10. ACAT Tchad - Thad
    11. ACAT Togo - Togo
    12. Action Against Violence and Exploitation (ACTVE) - Philippines
    13. Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda (ACADHOSHA) - République démocratique du Congo
    14. Advocacy Forum – Nepal - Nepal
    15. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains - France
    16. Albanian Human Rights Group
    17. ALTSEAN-Burma - Myanmar
    18. Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) - Malaisie/Asie-Pacifique
    19. Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial - Belgique
    20. ARTICLE 19
    21. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights - Indonésie
    22. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) - Philippines
    23. Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) - Honduras
    24. Asociación pro derechos humanos (Aprodeh) - Pérou
    25. Association Mauritanienne des droits de l'homme (AMDH-Mauritanieuri) - Mauritanie
    26. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) - Inde
    27. Association Tchadienne pour la promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH) - Tchad
    28. Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates - Tunisie
    29. Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) - France
    30. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) - Inde
    31. Belarusian-Swiss Association RAZAM.CH - Suisse
    32. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee - Bulgarie
    33. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) - Cambodge
    34. Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) - Australie
    35. Center for Civil Liberties - Ukraine
    36. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) – États-Unis d’Amérique
    37. Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), University of York – Royaume-Uni
    38. Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (CDDHR) - Russie
    39. Centro de Derechos humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.c. (Frayba) - Mexique
    40. Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte - Mexique
    41. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH) - Honduras
    42. Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Victimas de la Tortura y sus familiares (CPTRT) - Honduras
    43. Centro de Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos (CINTRAS) - Chili
    44. Changement Social Bénin (CSB) - Benin
    45. CIVICUS
    46. Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) - Suède
    47. Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH-RD) – République dominicaine
    48. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH) - Burkina Faso
    49. Coalition Marocaine contre la Peine de Mort - Maroc
    50. Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort - Tunisie
    51. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT) - Togo
    52. Comisión de derechos humanos – COMISEDH - Pérou
    53. Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) - Honduras
    54. Comité de solidaridad con los presos políticos (FCSPP) - Colombie
    55. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) – Irlande du Nord (Royaume-Uni)
    56. Crude Accountability - États-Unis d’Amérique
    57. Czech League of Human Rights – République tchèque
    58. Death Penalty Focus (DPF) - États-Unis d’Amérique
    59. Defenders of human rights centre - Iran
    60. DEMAS - Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights - République tchèque
    61. DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights - Botswana
    62. Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) - Belgique
    63. Eleos Justice, Monash University - Australie
    64. Enfants Solidaires d'Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) - Benin
    65. Federal Association of Vietnam-Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany - Allemagne
    66. FIDU - Italian Federation for Human Rights - Italie
    67. Finnish League for Human Rights - Finlande
    68. Free Press Unlimited – Pays-Bas
    69. Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) - Équateur
    70. GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women - Philippines
    71. German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP) - Allemagne
    72. Greek Helsinki Monitor - Grèce
    73. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly – Vanadzor - Arménie
    74. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Pologne
    75. Citizens' Watch Russia
    76. Human Rights Alert - Inde
    77. Human Rights Association (İHD) – Turquie
    78. Human Rights Center (HRC) - Géorgie
    79. Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" - Russie
    80. Human Rights House Foundation
    81. Human Rights in China (HRIC) – États-Unis d’Amérique
    82. Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) - Lituanie
    83. Human Rights Mouvement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” - Kirghizistan
    84. Human Rights Organization of Nepal - Népal
    85. Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) - Grèce
    86. Hungarian Helsinki Committee - Hongrie
    87. IDP Women Association "Consent" - Géorgie
    88. Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenya
    89. Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR) - Uruguay
    90. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Kenyan Section - Kenya
    91. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - France
    92. International Legal Initiative - Kazakhstan
    93. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - Belgique
    94. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - Suisse
    95. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society - Inde
    96. JANANEETHI - Inde
    97. Justice for Iran (JFI) – Royaume-Uni
    98. Justícia i Pau - Espagne
    99. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law - Kazakhstan
    100. Kharkiv Regional Foundation "Public Alternative" - Ukraine
    101. La Strada International - The Netherlands
    102. La Voix des Sans Voix pour les Droits de l'Homme (VSV) – République démocratique du Congo
    103. Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC) - Lettonie
    104. Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights YUCOM - Serbie
    105. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) - Iran
    106. Legal Policy Research Centre (LPRC) - Kazakhstan
    107. Libereco Partnership of Human Rights - Allemagne/ Suisse
    108. LICADHO - Cambodge
    109. Lifespark - Suisse
    110. Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos - Civitas (LPDHC) - Portugal
    111. Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (LvRM) (Dutch League for Human Rights) – Pays-Bas
    112. Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH) - France
    113. Ligue Tchadienne des droits de l'Homme - Tchad
    114. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) - Maldives
    115. Martin Ennals Foundation - Suisse
    116. Minority Rights Group - Grèce
    117. Mouvance des Abolitionnistes du Congo Brazzaville - Congo Brazzaville
    118. Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH) - Côte d'Ivoire
    119. Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme - Laos
    120. Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (MNDH) - Brésil
    121. Netherlands Helsinki Committee – Pays-Bas
    122. Norwegian Helsinki Committee - Norvège
    123. Observatoire du système pénal et des droits humains (OSPDH) - Espagne
    124. Observatoire Marocain des prisons - Maroc
    125. Odhikar - Bangladesh
    126. OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr - France
    127. Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie (OCTT) - Tunisie
    128. Organisation Guineenne de Defense des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH) - Guinée
    129. Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte ÖLFMR - Autriche
    130. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - Palestine
    131. Pax Christi Uvira - République démocratique du Congo
    132. People's Watch Indie
    133. Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) - Venezuela
    134. Promo LEX Association – République de Moldavie
    135. Protection International (PI)
    136. Public Association "Dignity" - Kazakhstan
    137. Public Association Spravedlivost Human Rights Organization - Kirghizistan
    138. Public Verdict Foundation - Russie
    139. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme RADDHO - Sénégal
    140. Repecap Academics - Espagne
    141. Réseau des Defenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) - Cameroun
    142. Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) - Haïti
    143. Rights Realization Centre – Royaume-Uni
    144. Rural People's Sangam - Inde
    145. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights – Royaume-Uni, Liban, Bahreïn
    146. Social-Strategic Researches and Analytical Investigations Public Union (SSRAIPU) – Azerbaïdjan
    147. SOHRAM-CASRA - Centre Action Sociale Réhabilitation et Réadaptation pour les Victimes de la Torture, de la guerre et de la violence - Turquie
    148. SOS-Torture/Burundi - Burundi
    149. SUARAM - Malaisie
    150. Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l'education du Niger (SYNAFEN NIGER) - Niger
    151. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) - Philippines
    152. Thai Action Committee for Democaracy in Burma (TACDB) – Thaïlande
    153. The Advocates for Human Rights – États-Unis d’Amérique
    154. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (BHRH) - Lituanie
    155. The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) - Indonesie
    156. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
    157. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights – États-Unis d’Amérique
    158. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) - France
    159. World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) - France
    160. World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - Suisse
    161. Xumek asociación para la promoción y protección de los derechos humanos - Argentine

     L'espace civique en Biélorussie est considéré comme Réprimé par le CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Massive crackdown on civil society and human rights require Council’s resolute action

    Statement at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue on the OHCHR report on the situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath

    Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

    Thank you Mr. President,

    We welcome the report of the High Commissioner and share the concerns over the complete lack of accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations, including the detention of thousands of people which could amount to crimes against humanity.

    In previous updates to the Council we expressed concerns over the targeting of protesters, detention and judicial persecution of human rights defenders and the prosecution of journalists.

    The human rights situation continues to deteriorate. The Belarusian authorities continue to retaliate against human rights groups and the work they do.

    Human rights defenders and their families are subjected to intrusive searches, arbitrary detentions and are held in inhumane conditions. Human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, Chair of the human rights group Viasna, several of his colleagues and hundreds of other human rights defenders are still detained.

    More than 32 lawyers representing protesters, human rights defenders and members of the political opposition who are detained have had their licenses revoked by the authorities. In addition, lawyers are subjected to intrusive searches and other forms of harassment.

    More than 300 civil society groups have been affected by liquidation procedures initiated by the government. In October 2021, the Supreme Court acceded to the demands of the Ministry of Justice to close down Belarus’ oldest human rights organisation – Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

    Hundreds of journalists have been arbitrarily detained under trumped up charges and key media outlets, including the Belarusian Association of Journalists, which has been promoting the rights of journalists and media rights for 25 years, have been dissolved.  

    Given the relentless deterioration of the human rights situation in the country and the lack of any efforts made by the authorities to hold perpetrators into account, we call on the members of the Human Rights Council to support and adopt a strong resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus which can further investigate violations with a view to holding perpetrators to account.

    Thank you.


     Civic space in Belarus is rated as closed by the CIVICUS Monitor 

     

  • Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka

    Dear Mr. President

    We, 48 undersigned organizations from 24 countries, strongly condemn the continuing wave of detentions and harassment of peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, anarchists and opposition party members in Belarus.

     

  • Outcomes & reflections from the UN Human Rights Council

    Joint statement at the end of the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    By renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), the Council has sent a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot be tolerated. It reaffirmed that specific, sustained and systematic attention is needed to address these human rights violations and ensure that LGBT people can live a life of dignity. We welcome the Core Group's commitment to engage in dialogue with all States, resulting in over 50 original co-sponsors across all regions. However, we regret that some States have again attempted to prevent the Council from addressing discrimination and violence on the basis of SOGI.

    This Council session also sent a clear message that Council membership comes with scrutiny by addressing the situations of Eritrea, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This shows the potential the Council has to leverage its membership to become more effective and responsive to rights holders and victims. 

    The Council did the right thing by extending its monitoring of the situation in Eritrea. The onus is on the Eritrean Government to cooperate with Council mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur, in line with its membership obligations. 

    We welcome the first Council resolution on the Philippinesas an important first step towards justice and accountability. We urge the Council to closely follow this situation and be ready to follow up with additional action, if the situation does not improve or deteriorates further. We deeply regret that such a resolution was necessary, due to the continuation of serious violations and repeated refusal of the Philippines – despite its membership of the Council– to cooperate with existing mechanisms. 

    We deplore that the Philippines and Eritrea sought to use their seats in this Council to seek to shield themselves from scrutiny, and those States who stood with the authorities and perpetrators who continue to commit grave violations with impunity, rather than with the victims.

    We welcome the written statement by 22 States on Chinaexpressing collective concern over widespread surveillance, restrictions to freedoms of religion and movement, and large-scale arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We consider it as a first step towards sustained Council attention and in the absence of progress look to those governments that have signed this letter to follow up at the September session with a resolution calling for China to allow access to the region to independent human rights experts and to end country-wide the arbitrary detention of individuals based on their religious beliefs or political opinions.

    We welcome the progress made in resolutions on the rights of women and girls: violence against women and girls in the world of work, on discrimination against women and girls and on the consequences of child, early and forced marriage. We particularly welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls under its new name and mandate to focus on the intersections of gender and age and their impact on girls. The Council showed that it was willing to stand up to the global backlash against the rights of women and girls by ensuring that these resolutions reflect the current international legal framework and resisted cultural relativism, despite several amendments put forward to try and weaken the strong content of these resolutions. 

    However, in the text on the contribution of developmentto the enjoyment of all human rights, long standing consensus language from the Vienna Declaration for Programme of Action (VDPA) recognising that, at the same time, “the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights” has again been deliberately excluded, disturbing the careful balance established and maintained for several decades on this issue. 

    We welcome the continuous engagement of the Council in addressing the threat posed by climate changeto human rights, through its annual resolution and the panel discussion on women’s rights and climate change at this session. We call on the Council to continue to strengthen its work on this issue, given its increasing urgency for the protection of all human rights.

    The Council has missed an opportunity on Sudanwhere it could have supported regional efforts and ensured that human rights are not sidelined in the process. We now look to African leadership to ensure that human rights are upheld in the transition. The Council should stand ready to act, including through setting up a full-fledged inquiry into all instances of violence against peaceful protesters and civilians across the country. 

    During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions, States heard loud and clear that the time to hold Saudi Arabia accountable is now for the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We recall that women human rights defenders continue to be arbitrarily detained despite the calls by 36 States at the March session. We urge States to adopt a resolution at the September session to establish a monitoring mechanism over the human rights situation in the country. 

    We welcome the landmark report of the High Commissioner on the situation for human rights in Venezuela; in response to the grave findings in the report and the absence of any fundamental improvement of the situation in the meantime, we urge the Council to adopt a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism in September, to reinforce the ongoing efforts of the High Commissioner and other actors to address the situation.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate on freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This mandate is at the core of our work as civil society and we trust that the mandate will continue to protect and promote these fundamental freedoms towards a more open civic space.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus. We acknowledge some positive signs of re-engagement in dialogue by Belarus, and an attempted negotiation process with the EU on a potential Item 10 resolution. However, in the absence of systemic human rights reforms in Belarus, the mandate and resolution process remains an essential tool for Belarusian civil society. In addition, there are fears of a spike in violations around upcoming elections and we are pleased that the resolution highlights the need for Belarus to provide safeguards against such an increase.

    We welcome the renewal of the quarterly reporting process on the human rights situation in Ukraine. However, we also urge States to think creatively about how best to use this regular mechanism on Ukraine to make better progress on the human rights situation.

    The continued delay in the release of the UN databaseof businesses engaged with Israeli settlements established pursuant to Council resolution 31/36 in March 2016 is of deep concern.  We join others including Tunisia speaking on behalf of 65 states and Peru speaking on behalf of 26 States in calling on the High Commissioner to urgently and fully fulfil this mandate as a matter of urgency and on all States to cooperate with all Council mandates, including this one, and without political interference.

    Numerous States and stakeholders highlighted the importance of the OHCHR report on Kashmir; while its release only a few days ago meant it did not receive substantive consideration at the present session, we look forward to discussing it in depth at the September session. 

    Finally, we welcome the principled leadership shown by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, in pursuing accountability for individual victims of acts of intimidation and reprisalsunder General Debate Item 5, contrasting with other States which tend to make only general statements of concern. We call on States to raise all individual cases at the interactive dialogue on reprisals and intimidation in the September session. 

    Signatories:

    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    3. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    5. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    6. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    7. Center for Reproductive Rights 
    8. ARTICLE 19
    9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    10. Human Rights House Foundation 
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Franciscans International 
    13. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    14. Amnesty International
    15. Human Rights Watch
    16. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) 

     

  • Outcomes & reflections from UN Human Rights Council

    38th Session of the Human Rights Council
    End of Session Joint Civil Society Statement

    Our organisations welcome the adoption of the resolutions on civil society space, peaceful protest, on violence against women and girls and on discrimination against women and girls and the Council’s rejection of attempts to impede progress on protecting civil society space, peaceful protest and the rights to sexual and reproductive health.

    On civil society space, the resolution recognizes the essential contribution that civil society makes to international and regional organisations and provides guidance to States and organisations on improving their engagement with civil society.  On peaceful protest, it sets out in greater detail how international law and standards protect rights related to protests. 

    On violence against women and on discrimination against women, we consider that ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights are vital in efforts to combat violence and discrimination against women, online and offline, as well as to ensure targeted and specific remedies to victims. We appreciate that the work of women human rights defenders towards this is recognised. 

    We consider the adoption of the resolution on the contribution of the Council to the prevention of human rights violations as an important opportunity to advance substantive consideration on strengthening the Council’s ability to deliver on its prevention mandate.

    Following challenging negotiations, we welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on human rights and the Internet, reaffirming that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, and calling on States to tackle digital divides between and within countries, emphasising the importance of tools for anonymity and encryption for the enjoyment of human rights online, in particular for journalists, and condemning once more all measures that prevent or disrupt access to information online.

    We welcome continued Council attention to Eritrea's abysmal human rights record. This year's resolution, while streamlined, extends expert monitoring of, and reporting on, the country and outlines a way forward for both engagement and human rights reform. We urge Eritrea to engage in long-overdue meaningful cooperation. 

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus under item 4 with an increased vote - as it is still the only independent international mechanism to effectively monitor human rights violations in Belarus - while remaining concerned over a narrative to shift the mandate to item 10 in the absence of any systemic change in Belarus. 

    We welcome the consensus resolution on the Democratic Republic of Congo, putting in place continued monitoring and follow up on the expert’s recommendations on the Kasais. However, given violations and abuses throughout several regions in the country, occurring against the backdrop of an ongoing political crisis, delayed elections, and the brutal quashing of dissent, we urge the Council to promptly move towards putting in place a country-wide mechanism that can respond to events on the ground as they emerge.

    We welcome the strong resolution on Syria, which condemns violations and abuses by all parties, and appropriately addresses concerns raised by the COI about the use of chemical weapons, sexual and gender-based violence, and the need to address situations of detainees and disappearances. The Council cannot stay silent in the face of continued atrocities as the conflict continues unabated into its seventh year.

    We welcome the joint statements delivered this session on Cambodia, the Philippines,and Venezuela. We urge Council members and observes to work towards increased collective action to urgently address the dire human rights situations in these countries.  

    On the Philippines, we emphasise that the Council should establish an independent international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the ‘war on drugs’ and mandate the OHCHR to report on the human rights situation and on moves toward authoritarianism.  

    The joint statement on Cambodia represents a glimmer of hope after the Council's failure to take meaningful action against clear sabotage of democratic space ahead of elections. Close scrutiny of the human rights situation before, during and after the elections is paramount and the Council must take immediate action on current and future human rights violations in this regard.

    We welcome the joint statement delivered by Luxembourg  calling on the HRC President to provide short oral updates on cases of alleged intimidation or reprisal, including actions taken, at the start of the Item 5 general debate of each Council session and also provide States concerned with the opportunity to respond.

    Finally, the new Council member to replace the United States should demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights, to multilateralism and to addressing country situations of concern by applying objective criteria. 

    Joint Statement by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Association for Progressive Communications, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 

     

  • Progress and shortcomings from 44th Session of the Human Rights Council

    Joint Statement for the end of the 44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council began with China's imposition of legislation severely undermining rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. Within days, there were reports of hundreds of arrests, some for crimes that didn’t even exist previously. We welcome efforts this session by a growing number of States to collectively address China’s sweeping rights abuses, but more is needed. An unprecedented 50 Special Procedures recently expressed concerns at China’s mass violations in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, suppression of information in the context of Covid-19, and targeting of human rights defenders across the country. The Council should heed the call of these UN experts to hold a Special Session and create a mechanism to monitor and document rights violations in the country. No state is beyond international scrutiny. China’s turn has come.

    The 44th session also marked an important opportunity to enable those affected directly by human rights violations to speak to the Council through NGO video statements.

    Amnesty's Laith Abu Zeyad addressed the Council remotely from the occupied West Bank where he has been trapped by a punitive travel ban imposed by Israel since October 2019. We call on the Israeli authorities to end all punitive or arbitrary travel bans.

    During the interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, victims’ associations and families of victims highlighted the human rights violations occurring in detention centers in Syria. We welcome the efforts by some States to underline their demands and welcome the adoption of the Syria resolution on detainees and urge the Syrian government to take all feasible measures to release detainees and provide truth to the families, noting the important pressure needed by Member States to further call for accountability measures for crimes committed in Syria.

    Collette Flanagan, Founder of Mothers against Police Brutality, also delivered a powerful video statement at the Council explaining the reality of racist policing in the United States of America. We fully support victims’ families’ appeals to the Council for accountability.

    We hope that the High Commissioner's reporton systemic racism, police violence and government responses to antiracism peaceful protests will be the first step in a series of meaningful international accountability measures to fully and independently investigate police killings, to protect and facilitate Black Lives Matter and other protests, and to provide effective remedy and compensation to victims and their families in the United States of America and around the world.

    We appreciate the efforts made by the Council Presidency and OHCHR to overcome the challenges of resuming the Council’s work while taking seriously health risks associated with COVID-19, including by increasing remote and online participation. We recommend that remote civil society participation continue and be strengthened for all future sessions of the Council.

    Despite these efforts, delays in finalising the session dates and modalities, and subsequent changes in the programme of work, reduced the time CSOs had to prepare and engage meaningfully. This has a disproportionate impact on CSOs not based in Geneva, those based in different time zones and those with less capacity to monitor the live proceedings. Other barriers to civil society participation this session included difficulties to meet the strict technical requirements for uploading video statements, to access resolution drafts and follow informal negotiations remotely, especially from other time zones, as well as a decrease in the overall number of speaking slots available for NGO statements due to the cancellation of general debates this session as an ‘efficiency measure.’

    We welcome the joint statement led by the core group on civil society space and endorsed by cross regional States and civil society, which calls on the High Commissioner to ensure that the essential role of civil society, and States’ efforts to protect and promote civil society space, are reflected in the report on impact of the COVID-19 pandemic presented to the 46th Session of the HRC. We urge all States at this Council to recognise and protect the key role that those who defend human rights play.

    These last two years have seen unlawful use of force perpetrated by law enforcement against peaceful protesters, protest monitors, journalists worldwide, from the United States of America to Hong Kong, to Chile to France, Kenya to Iraq to Algeria, to India to Lebanon with impunity.

    We therefore welcome that the resolution “the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests” was adopted by consensus, and that the Council stood strongly against some proposed amendments which would have weakened it. We also welcome the inclusion in the resolution of a panel during the 48th session to discuss such events and how States can strengthen protections. We urge States to ensure full accountability for such human rights violations as an essential element of the protection of human rights in the context of protests. The current context has accelerated the urgency of protecting online assembly, and we welcome that the resolution reaffirms that peaceful assembly rights guaranteed offline are also guaranteed online. In particular, we also commend the resolution for calling on States to refrain from internet shutdowns and website blocking during protests, while incorporating language on the effects of new and emerging technologies, particularly tools such as facial recognition, international mobile subscriber identity-catchers (“stingrays”) and closed-circuit television.

    We welcome that the resolution on “freedom of opinion and expression” contains positive language including on obligations surrounding the right to information, emphasising the importance of measures for encryption and anonymity, and strongly condemning the use of internet shutdowns. Following the High Commissioner’s statement raising alarm at the abuse of ‘false news’ laws to crackdown on free expression during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also welcome that the resolution stresses that responses to the spread of disinformation and misinformation must be grounded in international human rights law, including the principles of lawfulness, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality. At the same time, we are concerned by the last minute addition of language which focuses on restrictions to freedom of expression, detracting from the purpose of the resolution to promote and protect the right. As we look to the future, it is important that the core group builds on commitments contained in the resolution and elaborate on pressing freedom of expression concerns of the day, particularly for the digital age, such as the issue of surveillance or internet intermediary liability, while refocusing elements of the text.

    The current context has not only accelerated the urgency of protecting assembly and access to information, but also the global recognition of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. We welcome the timely discussions on ”realizing children’s right to a healthy environment” and the concrete suggestions for action from panelists, States, and civil society. The COVID-19 crisis, brought about by animal-to-human viral transmission, has clarified the interlinkages between the health of the planet and the health of all people. We therefore support the UN Secretary General’s call to action on human rights, as well as the High Commissioner’s statement advocating for the global recognition of the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment – already widely reflected at national and regional levels - and ask that the Council adopts a resolution in that sense. We also support the calls made by the Marshall Islands, Climate Vulnerable Forum, and other States of the Pacific particularly affected and threatened by climate change. We now urge the Council to strengthen its role in tackling the climate crisis and its adverse impacts on the realization of human rights by establishing a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change, which will help address the urgency of the situation and amplify the voices of affected communities.

    The COVID crisis has also exacerbated discrimination against women and girls. We welcome the adoption by the Council of a strong resolution on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls, which are exacerbated in times of a global pandemic. The text, inter alia, reaffirms the rights to sexual and reproductive health and to bodily autonomy, and emphasizes legal obligations of States to review their legislative frameworks through an intersectional approach. We regret that such a timely topic has been questioned by certain States and that several amendments were put forward on previously agreed language.

    The Council discussed several country-specific situations, and renewed the mandates in some situations.

    We welcome the renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and ongoing scrutiny on Belarus. The unprecedented crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and members of the political opposition in recent weeks ahead of the Presidential election in August provide a clear justification for the continued focus, and the need to ensure accountability for Belarus’ actions. With concerns that the violations may increase further over the next few weeks, it is essential that the Council members and observers maintain scrutiny and pressure even after the session has finished.

    We welcome the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. We urge the government to engage, in line with its Council membership obligations, as the Special Rapporteur’s ‘benchmarks for progress’ form a road map for human rights reform in the country. We welcome the High Commissioner report on the human rights situation in the Philippines which concluded, among other things, that the ongoing killings appear to be widespread and systematic and that “the practical obstacles to accessing justice in the country are almost insurmountable.” We regret that even during this Council session, President Duterte signed an Anti Terrorism Law with broad and vague definition of terrorism and terrorists and other problematic provisions for human rights and rule of law, which we fear will be used to stifle and curtail the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Also during this session, in a further attack on press freedom, Philippine Congress rejected the franchise renewal of independent media network ABS-CBN, while prominent journalist Maria Ressa and her news website Rappler continue to face court proceedings and attacks from President Duterte after Ressa’s cyber libel conviction in mid-June. We support the call from a group of Special Procedures to the Council to establish an independent, impartial investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines and urge the Council to establish it at the next session.

    The two reports presented to the Council on Venezuela this session further document how lack of judicial independence and other factors perpetuate impunity and prevent access to justice for a wide range of violations of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights in the country. We also urge the Council to stand ready to extend, enhance and expand the mandate of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission when it reports in September. We also welcome the report of the Special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 and reiterate his call for States to ensure Israel puts an end to all forms of collective punishment. We also reiterate his call to ensure that the UN database of businesses involved with Israeli settlements becomes a living tool, through sufficient resourcing and annual updating.

    We regret, however, that several States have escaped collective scrutiny this session.

    We reiterate the UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s call to pressure Saudi Arabia to release prisoners of conscience and women human rights defenders and call on all States to sustain the Council’s scrutiny over the situation at the September session.

    Despite calls by the High Commissioner for prisoners’ release, Egypt has arrested defenders, journalists, doctors and medical workers for criticizing the government’s COVID-19 response. We recall that all of the defenders that the Special Procedures and the High Commissioner called for their release since September 2019 are still in pre-trial detention. The Supreme State Security Prosecution and 'Terrorism Circuit courts' in Egypt, are enabling pre-trial detention as a form of punishment including against human rights defenders and journalists and political opponents, such as Ibrahim Metwally, Mohamed El-Baqer and Esraa Abdel Fattah, Ramy Kamel, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Patrick Zaky, Ramy Shaat, Eman Al-Helw, Solafa Magdy and Hossam El-Sayed. Once the terrorism circuit courts resumed after they were suspended due to COVID-19, they renewed their detention retroactively without their presence in court. It’s high time the Council holds Egypt accountable.

    As highlighted in a joint statement of Special Procedures, we call on the Indian authorities to immediately release HRDs, who include students, activists and protest leaders, arrested for protesting against changes to India’s citizenship laws. Also eleven prominent HRDs continue to be imprisoned under false charges in the Bhima Koregaon case. These activists face unfounded terror charges under draconian laws such as sedition and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. While we welcome that Safoora Zargar was granted bail on humanitarian grounds, the others remain at high risk during a COVID-19 pandemic in prisons with not only inadequate sanitary conditions but also limited to no access to legal counsel and family members. A number of activists have tested positive in prison, including Akhil Gogoi and 80-year-old activist Varavara Rao amid a larger wave of infections that have affected many more prisoners across the country. Such charges against protestors, who were exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly must be dropped. We call on this Council to strengthen their demands to the government of India for accountability over the excessive use of force by the police and other State authorities against the demonstrators.

    In Algeria, between 30 March and 16 April 2020, the Special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, human rights defenders, issued three urgent appeals in relation to cases involving arbitrary and violent arrests, unfair trials and reprisals against human rights defenders and peaceful activists Olaya Saadi, Karim Tabbou and Slimane Hamitouche. Yet, the Council has been silent with no mention of the crackdown on Algerian civil society, including journalists.

    To conclude on a positive note, we welcome the progress in the establishment of the OHCHR country office in Sudan, and call on the international community to continue to provide support where needed to the transitional authorities. While also welcoming their latest reform announcements, we urge the transitional authorities to speed up the transitional process, including reforms within the judiciary and security sectors, in order to answer the renewed calls from protesters for the enjoyment of "freedom, peace and justice" of all in Sudan. We call on the Council to ensure continued monitoring and reporting on Sudan.

    ENDORSEMENTS

    International Service for Human Rights
    DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    Franciscans International
    The Syrian Legal Development Programme
    Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA World)
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    ARTICLE 19
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    IFEX
    Association for Progressive Communications
    International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    Amnesty International

     


    Current council members:

    Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina FasoBrazil, Cameroon, Chile, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, ItalyJapan, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, SomaliaSudan, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

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