NHC addressing Belarus in EU and UN organs
The first week of September, Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with the International Partnership for Human Rights, Brussels, addressed the members of the European Parliament about the the human rights crisis in Belarus. We did this in view of a September 13 discussion of an urgent resolution concerning the arrest and imprisonment of the prominent Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. In addition, NHC has together with several international human rights organisations written a letter to the national delegations participating in the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
In the letter the the European Parliament, the NHC urges the European Parliament to
• Condemn the arrest of Ales Bialiatski, demand from Belarusian authorities his immediate release and demand that the criminal proceedings against him will be terminated;
• Demand that the criminal investigation of Valiantsin Stefanovich and other human rights activists is terminated;
• Demand the end to harassment of human rights defenders, and urge for an end to the severe restrictions placed on human rights organizations and other civil society groups, including an abolishment of the article 193.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus;
• Condemn the detentions, trials and sentencing on political grounds of representatives of civil society, independent media and the political opposition in the aftermath of December 19, 2010;
• Call for the unconditional release and full rehabilitation of political prisoners currently held in Belarus, 18 of whom having been convicted after the 19 December 2010 events and one prisoner, Mikalai Autokovich, convicted in 2010; as well as the rehabilitation of prisoners having been conditionally released or amnestied;
• Deplore the continued deterioration of the media freedom in Belarus;
• Demand the access of foreign human rights defenders and journalists to the territory of Belarus and demand an end to the prevention of independent human rights monitoring in the country and independent reporting from Belarus;
• Demand the restoration of the licenses of the seven Belarusian lawyers representing individuals in connection with the December 2010 events who either had their licenses revoked or were disbarred.
The letter to the the national delegations participating in the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights gives a throrough overview of the most pressing human rights concerns in Belarus currently, and issues need to be brought up during the dialogue.