OSCE PA calls for releasing political prisoners

In the 22nd annual session in Istanbul the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has adopted a resolution in which it urges the Belarusian authorities to release and exonerate all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.

It also called for an international investigation into the treatment of political prisoners incarcerated in Belarus, including allegations of torture by current and former prisoners, like Ales Mikhalevich, Andrey Sannikau and Anatol Liabedzka.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly condemned the treatment of political prisoners, including political opponents, human rights defenders and activists, incarcerated on politically motivated charges, and in many cases denied regular access to their lawyers and relatives, as well as other degrading treatment amounting to torture and urged the Government of Belarus to suspend any restrictions on movements imposed on political prisoners who have been given a suspended sentence, including Iryna Khalip, Uladzimir Niaklyayeu, Vital Rymasheusky, Siarhei Vazniak, Andrey Dzmitryeu, Aliaksandr Fiaduta and others.

The Assembly encouraged the Belarusian government to consider substantive legislative reforms to bring the country in line with European standards, including correcting the imbalance of power in favour of the executive, vested in the country’s 1996 Constitution, with a particular focus on reducing the dependence of the judiciary on the executive branches; and condemned the adoption of a series of repressive laws in Belarus, restricting fundamental rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association, and giving additional powers and immunity from prosecution to State Security Committee (KGB) officers.

The OSCE PA called on the authorities to co-operate closely with OSCE institutions in addressing the Organization’s election-related recommendations ahead of the upcoming local and municipal elections. The Assembly urged the Government of Belarus to respect its OSCE commitments with regard to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and to liberalize both legislation and practices, allowing citizens the right to public protest both online and offline.



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