Belarus: Amnesty urges UN to take strong action on escalating human rights crisis

In response to the escalating human rights crisis in Belarus, Amnesty International will address the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on 18 September and demand that it takes strong and decisive action to investigate the ongoing repression of post-election protests in the country and hold perpetrators of mass violations to account.

Amnesty International will also use the Urgent Debate on Belarus, which the Council agreed to hold this week, to address Belarus’ consistent failure over the years to fully cooperate with the Council, including with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, a mandate created by the Council.

“Belarus has for too long and without sufficient consequence refused to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, notwithstanding the violations we have been witnessed and documented for years. The situation has now deteriorated beyond anything we have seen in three decades of the country’s independence,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“The UN’s principal human rights body should send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate human rights abuses, particularly of the magnitude that Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s government has unleashed on its people. The world must stand with the victims of human rights violations in Belarus and support their pursuit of justice. The Council must establish an investigation into these human rights violations and put as much pressure on Belarusian authorities as possible to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

On 26 August, Amnesty International and 16 other international and Belarusian NGOs called on the HRC to act urgently on the human rights crisis in Belarus, including by launching an international investigation into the ongoing human rights violations.

The Belarusian authorities have waged a crackdown on dissent in the months leading up to the 9 August presidential election in which the incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka sought re-election, and in the weeks after the vote. The authorities have arrested, intimidated and harassed hundreds of people challenging Lukashenka and questioning his official declaration of victory.

There has been an outpouring of graphic images and compelling testimonies of the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors by police, widespread torture or other ill-treatment of detainees, and fabrication of criminal charges against leading activists, including, most recently, Maryia Kalesnikava. Amnesty International delegates witnessed the police crackdown on peaceful protesters in the capital Minsk on election night and subsequently.