Human rights in Belarus continue downward spiral, warns Bachelet |

Gender-based violence is of grave concern as around 30 percent of those arbitrarily detained are reported to have been women and girls. Michelle Bachelet told that Human Rights Council in genf.

Freedoms under attack

Since the controversial re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in August last year, the fundamental freedoms have been severely restricted, said Bachelet.

She highlighted ongoing police raids against civil society groups and independent media, as well as the politically motivated arrests and prosecutions of activists and journalists.

More than 650 people are said to be imprisoned for their opinions – including the head of the well-known human rights group Viasna.

Suppression of disagreements

Ms. Bachelet noted that the main goal of the Belarusian authorities was to suppress criticism and dissenting views of government policy, and not to protect human rights.

She added that she regretted that the request to meet the Belarusian ambassador had been denied, which prevented a working visit to the country.

The UN chief of law said 27 journalists and media workers were in custody until August 10, including well-known blogger Roman Protasevich, who was arrested with his Russian partner in May after his flight from Greece to Lithuania was diverted to Belarus which sparked worldwide condemnation.

Belarusian answer

In response to statements in the Council, Belarus said that its government had restored order in the country and that “people were working and leading their normal lives”.

It insisted that the actions of the Belarusian authorities are aimed at maintaining order and protecting the rights of all citizens.

He reiterated his opposition to Resolution 46/2, which condemned “ongoing serious human rights violations in Belarus”, and stated that the government’s position had been ignored and that the main goal of the protests was a revolutionary change of power.

Appeal for country access

Ms. Bachelet said at the meeting that the council could consider a number of accountability measures, but only 50 percent of the funds available for the mandate had been approved.

She said she hoped this would increase in 2022. The UN head of law also stressed that direct access to land is important, for example for physical access to prisons. However, she noted that “much could be achieved without physical access”.

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