UN rights expert demands release of political prisoners, dialogue in Belarus

2 May 2006

A United Nations rights expert today demanded the immediate release of political prisoners in Belarus, called on the Government “to cease human rights violations” and urged the authorities to engage in dialogue with all sectors of civil society.

In a prepared statement released in Geneva, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Adrian Severin, also called for the Government to allow him to conduct a fact-finding mission to the country as soon as possible.

“The Special Rapporteur demands the immediate and unconditional release of Aleksandr Milinkevich, Vintsuk Vyachorka, Aleksandr Buchvostau, and Sergei Kalyakin as well as of all other political prisoners of Belarus,” the statement said, highlighting Mr. Severin’s “grave concern” over the detention of these opposition leaders.

The Special Rapporteur demanded that the Government “give a clear and immediate sign of its readiness to cease ongoing human rights violations and bring their perpetrators to justice,” and that it invite him to conduct a fact-finding mission to Belarus at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr. Severin also expressed “serious concern” at reports indicating that another opposition member, Anatoly Lebedko, had been detained for several hours by KGB officers on 25 April during which “he would have been the victim of threats and ill-treatments.”

The Special Rapporteur also urged the Government to “promptly engage in dialogue with all sectors of the Belarusian civil society, including the political opposition,” as a way of defining a road map for implementing recommendations of UN human rights experts.

Today’s statement is the latest condemnation of rights violations in Belarus by Mr. Severin, after he voiced similar concerns surrounding the March presidential elections, when on one occasion he was joined by six other rights experts in calling for investigations into what was termed the deteriorating human rights situation.

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid experts serving in an independent personal capacity who received their mandate from the now defunct UN Commission on Human Rights and will now report to the newly established and enhanced Human Rights Council.

 

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