Miklos Haraszti, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday that all human rights in Belarus are violated systematically and grossly.
Presenting his report on the human rights situation in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti said that during the past 12 months there had been no positive change as the government had made little effort to promote and protect human rights; human rights violations remained of a systemic and systematic nature. Systematic because they were committed on a daily basis and in all walks of life, and systemic because laws and institutions were specifically designed so that human rights violations became their natural practice.
According to him, its government directly supervised the rule of law institutions and Belarus remained the only state in Europe with a Parliament without opposition. The economy was 70 to 80 per cent state-owned which led to widespread denial of labour rights with a severe suppression of the right of independent labour unions to organize. Civil society was muzzled or forced to operate clandestinely and it was imperative to decriminalize membership in an unregistered non-governmental organization and to fully review legislation affecting the work of human rights defenders and bring it in line with pertinent international norms and standards. The overall number of persons incarcerated in retaliation to their policies activities had not diminished and the Special Rapporteur reiterated the recommendation for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, human rights defenders and activists and their full rehabilitation.
Belarus was the only European country that still retained the death penalty and in April 2014, two new executions had been carried out in secret and with disregard for minimum standards, Mr Haraszti said.
‘In April 2014, two new executions were carried out in secret,’ news agency BelaPAN quotes Mr Haraszti as saying. ‘Those facing the death penalty, and their relatives or lawyers are informed of neither the scheduled date of execution nor where the body is buried. In one of the cases, the mother of the executed Pavel Sialiun was not notified of the decision to reject his plea for pardon or the date of execution.’
Administrative detention had been part of a planned operation preceding and accompanying the World Ice Hockey Championship to preclude contacts between Belarus’ civil society and the visitors of the event. Administrative arrests and short-term detentions continued to be used systematically and arbitrarily in reprisal against citizens who sought to exercise independently and freely their rights. The Human Rights Council should bear in mind the systemic and systematic character of the serious oppression of all human rights and the Government’s lack of cooperation with human rights mechanisms which further aggravated the situation, Mr Haraszti emphasized. The lack of the Government’s cooperation with this mandate outlined the continued need to report on and monitor the human rights situation in Belarus. The stakes were high and the people of Belarus deserved that their situation remained fully on the agenda of the international community, he stressed.
He expressed doubt that the human rights situation in Belarus would improve following the 2015 presidential election. ‘Chronic restriction of human rights has led to recurrence of violence over the last 15 years, typically at times of elections and the announcement of their preordained outcomes,’ Mr Haraszti said. ‘During the recent local elections in March 2014, the right to elect was in practice again denied, as 88 percent of constituencies were uncontested.’
The UN Human Rights Council restored the position of the Council’s rapporteur on Belarus in July 2012, much to the displeasure of the Belarusian government. Miklos Haraszti, a Hungarian politician, was appointed special rapporteur on Belarus on September 28, 2012. It is noteworthy that Minsk did not even issue a visa to him.
However, Mr Haraszti managed to review a broad range of human rights concerns despite his not having access to the country and state officials.
‘We don’t believe that he can or is capable of having a constructive dialogue with the government of Belarus because of his peculiar personal qualities and the matter`s prehistory, as well as because the position was instituted without the Belarusian government`s consent,’ Yury Ambrazevich, a representative of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, told journalists.