Viktar Babaryka was sentenced to 14 years in prison today. He had been held in detention since 18 June 2020, for the sole reason to have tried to exercise his political right to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections in August 2020.
This sentence is one of at least 125 unfair and arbitrary recent verdicts by Belarusian courts in politically motivated trials, often held behind closed doors and without due process of law.
Today, Belarus has over 530 political prisoners, hundreds of documented instances of torture, and continued repression against all segments of society to silence all dissent and ill treatment in detention centres. The Lukashenko regime clearly violates international human rights that it has committed to uphold. This has been most recently confirmed also by the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus.
The EU demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Babaryka as well as of all political prisoners, detained journalists and people who are behind bars for exercising their fundamental rights. The regime must halt repression and injustice and hold perpetrators to account.
The EU will continue its efforts to push for accountability for the brutal repression by the Belarusian authorities. The EU also continues to call for a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue with representatives of the democratic opposition and civil society, facilitated by the OSCE, leading to new free and fair elections.
Serious human rights violations come at a price. Since last October, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures in response to the continued intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protesters, opposition members and journalists. In line with its gradual approach, the EU stands ready to consider further measures.