Recommendations of Belarusian NGOs for the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus in the UN Human Rights Council

Recommendations of Belarusian NGOs for the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus in the UN Human Rights Council 

1. endeavour to observe and encourage human rights whereby the office of ombudsman and national institutions for human rights issues should be created in accordance with the Paris Principles;

2. cooperate with the Charter based and Treaty based UN human rights bodies, submit reports promptly in fulfilment of its obligations to implement their recommendations and take steps to put into practice the ideas of the UN Human Rights Committee regarding individual complaints;  

3. introduce a moratorium on the death penalty, ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and take steps to remove the death penalty from the penal system;

4. ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance;

5. recognize the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under art.14 of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (individual complaints);

6. take steps to broaden instruction to include human rights at all levels of education;

7. define the concept of discrimination in the legislation and ensure that defenders of the victims of discrimination have effective access to the courts;

8. do not allow discrimination against any person or group for whatever reason including for political or other persuasions; 

9. ensure that state officials and officers in the law enforcement agencies are given instruction in the problems of discrimination and why it cannot be tolerated;

10. eliminate other incidents of discrimination for political or other reasons and ensure that every incident of discrimination is investigated;

11. take the necessary steps to complete investigations into the cases of the disappearance of the political figures, V. Gonchar, D. Zavadskiy, Yu. Zakharenko and A. Krasovskiy, and bring those responsible to justice;

12. set up procedures for detention in accordance with international standards, transfer the powers to authorise detention and to select measures of restriction to the judiciary, leaving the possibility of using detention as a measure of restriction for motives of a particular gravity only;

13. ban the imprisonment and solitary confinement of citizens in cases not relating to infringement of the law after suppressing the system of preventive treatment by medical means and hard labour;

14. stop the practice of arbitrarily arresting citizens for political reasons and take effective steps to investigate existing cases of illegal arrests;

15. continue efforts in the fight against torture and make a declaration recognizing the competence of the Committee against Torture under arts 21 and 22 of the Convention against Torture;

16. implement in the national legislation the concept of torture given in the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and ensure that cases of torture and inhuman treatment will be effectively investigated;

17. endeavour to reform the penal system in order to fulfil the Minimum Standards of the regulations for treating prisoners which will include bringing conditions in prisons and places of detention into line with international standards in the sphere of human rights;

18. take additional steps to ensure that punishment is humane and transfer the penal administrative system into the hands of the Ministry of Justice;

19. ensure that officers in the penal system and the forces of law and order are instructed in human rights matters;

20. create real possibilities for civil control over conditions of detention in prisons and other places where citizens are detained against their will;

21. take steps to increase the independence of the judiciary and lawyers and fulfil the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers;

22. promote the role of the judiciary in Belarus and do not let the executive interfere in the administration of justice; ensure appropriate publicity for the judicial process; take steps to allow more citizens the possibility of a legal defence by conceding the right of constitutional complaint; 

23. drop the cases of persons being found guilty of refusing to serve in the army on conscientious grounds and pass a law on an alternative civic service;

24. ensure the appropriate creation of a right to profess religions which will include inviting foreign clergy;

25. ensure that all branches of the state authorities, including those working in state institutions, fully respect and encourage the freedom to express one's opinion;

26. take effective steps to ensure the freedom of the independent media, both domestic and foreign; 

27. grant equal economic conditions for the variously owned media, release all non-state socio-political publications from the system of the state monopoly distributed press and eliminate the administrative and economic pressure on economic subjects who work with the editorial staff of the independent media, including the press;

28. take steps to increase access to information, set up, in accordance with international standards, legislation governing the right of journalists to access information on the activities of state institutions, simplify the procedures for allowing official representatives of the foreign media to set up offices in Belarus and also introduce the applicant principle of accreditation;  

29. pass, in accordance with international standards, legislation on the media, eliminate criminal responsibility for defamation of high ranking officials and discrediting the state and do not allow violations of the right to receive and disseminate information under the pretence of counteracting extremism; 

30. effectively investigate and prosecute by judicial process crimes and violations against journalists and human rights defenders and bring the guilty to justice; 

31. pass legislation in accordance with international standards relating to freedom of assembly after simplifying and curtailing the procedure of notification, suppress the obligation for organisers to pay the costs of guaranteeing law and order and safety of citizens and suppress the unfounded restrictions on place, time and procedure for holding events;

32. implement suitably the duty of the state to defend the right to peaceful assembly by improving the mechanisms and procedures which will enable the freedom of assembly to be practised without excessive bureaucratic regulation;

33. investigate every case of unfounded prohibition on conducting a peaceful assembly and the persecution of its participants;

34. repeal the ban on the activity of unregistered social organisations, funds, political parties and religious organisations and simplify the procedures for their state registration;

35. stop the persecution of political party and civil society activists;

36. continue to work at fulfilling the recommendations of OSCE and of the Venetian Commission of the Council of Europe to improve the electoral law and its implementation with the aim of creating an appropriate guarantee that citizens can participate in state affairs;

37. take steps to ensure the real equality of the two state languages and in particular ensure that legislation is passed in both state languages;

38. eliminate problems relating to receiving education in Belarusian once the continuity of language in education is ensured at various levels;

39. continue efforts to create unrestricted means and other conditions necessary for ensuring real equality for persons with limited opportunities; 

40. continue efforts to establish gender equality;

41. endeavour to take real steps to encourage tolerance towards and eliminate the discrimination of persons from minority sexual orientation or gender identity;

42. conscientiously implement the ILO Convention No 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labour:
- amend the law on servicemen by removing from it the possibility of using the labour of servicemen which is not linked with their military service;
- refuse to carry out the compulsory assignment of graduates from all levels of educational institutions as a means of mobilising and using the work force for the needs of the economic development of the country;
- suppress from the legislation the regulations which provide for the compulsory labour of parents who are obliged to repay the day-care expenses for their children after they have been taken away from them and also any criminal responsibility attaching to their refusal to engage in labour connected with such repayment;
- refuse to implement the compulsory sentence of hard labour as a measure of medical-social rehabilitation of persons placed in medical-labour corrective institutions;

43. take steps to restrict the unfounded widespread and arbitrary use of written agreement as a form of employment contract;

44. take effective steps to ensure education is provided in the languages of national minorities; 

  45. encourage and widen cooperation with groups of civil society in carrying out follow-up measures and implementing the results of this review.