Deploring rights abuses in Belarus, UN expert calls for detainees’ release

Deploring rights abuses in Belarus, UN expert calls for detainees’ release

In his third condemnation in a week over presidential elections in Belarus, decried by monitors as neither free nor fair, a United Nations expert today deplored the escalation of Government abuses against the independent press, opposition candidates and supporters, and called for the immediate release of all political detainees.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Adrian Severin, cited reports that riot police stormed an opposition tent camp in Minsk, the capital, early today, beating demonstrators detained inside buses in order to avoid press attention, and releasing an unknown white gas.

“The Special Rapporteur reiterates his call on the Government of Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners, bring all violations of human rights to an immediate end, and investigate them, in order to bring those responsible to justice,” Mr. Severin said in a statement released in Geneva.

“The Special Rapporteur urges the President and the Government of Belarus to engage immediately in a constructive dialogue with all sectors of the Belarusian society and with the political opposition before the human rights situation deteriorates even further,” he added.

Only yesterday Mr. Severin, who already last week strongly deplored the Government’s actions ahead of Sunday’s vote, noted “with regret” that international monitors had cited arbitrary use of state power, widespread detentions, persistent disregard for the basic rights of freedom of assembly as well as allegations of fraud.

“The EP (European Parliament ) ad hoc delegation stated that Alexander Lukashenko cannot be recognized as the legitimate president of Belarus, as the elections were not free, fair or democratic and called for a re-run of the elections, as well as for an extension of European Union sanctions against Belarus,” he said in that statement.

Special Rapporteurs, who are unpaid and serve in a personal capacity, receive their mandates from the UN Commission on Human Rights.