Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus
The present report is submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 17/24, in which the Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the human rights situation in Belarus and to present to the Council, in an interactive dialogue at its twentieth session, a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Belarus following the presidential election of 19 December 2010.
The report covers the period from 19 December 2010 to 23 March 2012. The High Commissioner presented an oral report on the situation to the Council at its eighteenth session.
The situation of human rights has significantly deteriorated in Belarus following the presidential election. The Government‟s response to a mostly peaceful demonstration in Minsk, contesting the electoral process, was followed by a massive crackdown on political opponents, human rights groups and independent media. Overall, more than 600 people were arrested and detained on or shortly after election day; 43 opposition leaders, activists and independent journalists were sentenced, including five out of nine opposition candidates.
Since the election, the human rights situation has further deteriorated, particularly the rights to freedoms of association, assembly and expression, and the right to a fair trial.
Allegations of torture and ill-treatment in custody, impunity of perpetrators, violations of due judicial process and pressure on defence lawyers persist. The lack of an independent judiciary and a national human rights institution aggravate the human rights situation and impede progress.
The High Commissioner makes recommendations aimed at addressing systemic challenges, as well as urgent human rights issues.
As the Office of the High Commissioner was not allowed access to Belarus, the present report is based on a variety of sources, including information provided by the Government.