One year ago, the EU lifted sanctions against Belarus. The sanctions were imposed in response to human rights violations perpetrated by the Belarusian regime, but were lifted without any improvements to the human rights situation.
On the one year anniversary, Civil Rights Defenders releases a report entitled: Dictatorship No More? EU Sanctions Lifted at the Expense of Civil and Political Rights in Belarus.
The report is based on numerous interviews and surveys carried out with Belarusian human rights defenders establishing that no progress has been made when it comes to civil and political rights in Belarus.
Civil Rights Defenders reviewed the EU’s main demands on Belarus throughout the years and examined whether Belarus has lived up to them. The results are disappointing:
Abolition of Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code:
Respect for press freedom:
Termination of the prosecution of political opponents, civil society activists and human rights defenders:
Moratorium on the death penalty:
The release of all political prisoners, their rehabilitation and full restoration of their civil and political rights:
Investigation of disappearances:
“Local human rights activists are disappointed by the EU’s decision to lift the sanctions. The overall perception is that the EU’s lack of consistency will encourage the government to clamp down on civil society and regime critics,” the report says.
“The EU seems to have turned a blind eye when it comes to human rights abuses in Belarus and the EU’s lifting of the sanctions seem to be solely motivated by geo-political concerns. In these troubling times, when human rights are at risk globally, it is of utmost importance that the EU takes a clear stand – political and civil rights must be respected by countries who want to cooperate with the union. Therefore, the EU must immediately change course: include civil society in its dialogue with the regime and keep the few remaining sanctions against the country in place,” said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia Department at Civil Rights Defenders.
Civil Rights Defenders (previously known as the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights) is an independent expert organisation founded in Stockholm in 1982 with the aim of defending human rights, in particular people’s civil and political rights. They also support and empower human rights defenders at risk on four continents.