EU-Belarus Human Rights Dialogue Takes Place in Minsk (07/06/2016)

Minsk, 7 June 2016

The European Union and the Republic of Belarus held a bilateral Human Rights Dialogue on 7 June 2016 in Minsk. The dialogue took place in Minsk after having resumed last year. The European Union delegation was led by Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service. The Belarusian delegation was led by Alena Kupchyna, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus. Representatives of European Union Member States observed the talks.

The dialogue allowed for an extensive exchange of views on the situation of human rights both in Belarus and in the European Union, focusing in particular on the freedoms of expression, assembly and association; the electoral rights; the death penalty and fight against torture and ill treatment; the rights of people with disabilities and the fight against violence in the family. The EU appreciated the participation and contribution of a number of civil society organisations on the two latter issues. The two sides in particular discussed the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the EU underlined the importance of conducting them in line with international standards. Discussions were equally dedicated to the development of Belarus' national institutions for protection of human rights.

Furthermore, the sides discussed cooperation in promoting human rights in international fora, including cooperation with the UN mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review. Several areas of future cooperation and for further discussion were identified. A number of individual cases were addressed.

In keeping with the EU’s policy of consulting civil society in the overall context of its dialogues on human rights with third countries, the EU delegation met with Belarusian civil society representatives and human rights defenders, as well as representatives of the opposition.

The next regular Human Rights Dialogue meeting between the EU and Belarus is expected to take place in 2017.