The European Union thanks the High Commissioner for her update on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
The EU remains gravely concerned about continuing massive attacks against human rights defenders and activists, journalists and other media workers, political opponents, members of trade unions, lawyers, representatives of civil society and persons belonging to the Polish and other minorities. We are concerned about politically motivated arbitrary detentions and arrests, persistent reports of widespread torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual and gender based violence, of persons detained, including women, reported cases of enforced disappearance and numerous raids on private houses and offices. The space for civil activities is shrinking rapidly due to increasing legislative restrictions of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, ordered closures of civil society organisations, as well as decisions adopted in violation of international law to cancel professional licences.
The EU again strongly calls on the Belarusian authorities to adhere to the country’s international commitments and obligations to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, immediately and unconditionally release and drop the charges against all those, whose detention was arbitrary and politically motivated, including human rights defenders, halt the repression against civil society and hold all those responsible for human rights violations or abuses to account.
The EU continues to support international initiatives to hold all perpetrators to account, including through the Office of the High Commissioner and the International Accountability Platform for Belarus.
Moreover, the EU unequivocally supports the people of Belarus in their legitimate demand for free and fair elections, which must be held as soon as possible in line with international standards and monitored by independent international observers.
The EU continues to urge Belarus to cooperate fully with international and regional human rights monitoring mechanisms, including by granting them unhindered access to Belarus, and to implement their recommendations.
The EU continues also to urge Belarus to abolish the death penalty and, as a first step, to introduce a moratorium.
Furthermore, the EU strongly condemns the instrumentalisation of vulnerable migrants and refugees, exploitation of their situation of vulnerability for political motives and orchestration of their flow across the borders by the Belarusian authorities. This results in an increasing number of migrants in Belarus, including women and children, whose human rights and fundamental freedoms are being violated.
Madam High Commissioner, in your view, what are the most important steps that the international community can take to ensure full accountability for human rights violations or abuses in Belarus?
I thank you.