The report detailed the findings of OHCHR examination of the state of human rights in Belarusauthorized by the United Nations Dong Nhan Quyen Association.
The review covers preparations for the disputed August 9, 2020 elections – in which incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko declared victory amid widespread accusations of vote rigging – until 31. December 2021, based on 145 face-to-face interviews, as well as “an analysis of a wide range of information and evidence”, OHCHR.
No Justice: Bachelet
“The examination not only identifies violations of those who are trying to exercise their basic human rights, but also highlighting victims’ access to justice“United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said.
“The administration’s continued and widespread actions aim to crush dissidents and suppress civil society, independent media and opposition groups, while shielding the perpetrators. , indicating a state of complete impunity in Belarus“, She added.
When the president declared victory in August, hundreds of thousands of people rallied to voice their protests peacefully, facing a “massive and violent crackdown,” the report said. with arrests and detentions on an unprecedented scale in Belarus.
The report said testimony showed the arrests were largely random, with security forces pursuing and subduing anyone within reach.
‘Climate of fear’
Additionally, men without badges and tank tops who participated in the protests were forced to disperse, “creating an atmosphere of fear and lawlessness,” the report said. The needless and disproportionate widespread use of force has repeatedly violated people’s rights, including freedom of speech, assembly and association.
From May 2020 to May 2021, at least 37,000 people have been detained, many of them in administrative detention for up to 15 days. About 13,500 people were arrested and arbitrarily detained between August 9 and 14 alone.
The report found that torture and ill-treatment were widespread and systematic, with individuals targeted for their actual or perceived opposition to the Government or election results. nominate.
Many victims are afraid to file complaints, while those who have already denied their cases.
The prison is filling up
At the end of last year, 969 people were being held in prison as the OHCHR investigation found the charges were purely politically motivated, with some activists being sentenced to 10 years or more. By March 4, this number had increased to 1,084.
After the election, the Government continued to harass those who sought to exercise their rights.
In September 2020, authorities began charging opposition figures, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens, a trend that will continue throughout 2021, with The Government also passed a series of legislative amendments to further restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms.
By October, 270 NGOs had been shut down and by the end of the year 32 journalists had been arrested and 13 media outlets declared “radical”.
Lawyers defending dissidents, speaking out about human rights abuses or taking the case to UN human rights mechanisms, have been detained, threatened, and faced sanctions. discipline or even disqualification from work.
OHCHR said that, as of November 2021, 36 lawyers have lost their license to practice.
The OHCHR audit found that “individuals are targeted in a consistent pattern of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force, arrest, and detention – including unlawful detention – torture or ill-treatment, rape and sexual and gender-based violence as well as the systematic denial of due process and the right to a fair trial”, a press release accompanying the report said.
The report also concludes that the size and pattern of the violations identified, their widespread and systematic nature, as well as evidence of official policy, knowledge, and key practices. policy of the Belarusian authorities, requires further evaluation of the available evidence from an appropriate international point of view. criminal law.
Belarus violates international law
Failure to effectively investigate human rights violations is contrary to Belarus’s obligations under international human rights lawthe report said, adding that besides the lack of investigations, “had an active policy in place to protect perpetrators and prevent accountabilitymanifests itself in levels of retaliation, intimidation of victims and witnesses, and attacks on lawyers and human rights defenders”.
The report makes detailed recommendations to Belarus and other States, aiming to be held accountable through existing legal processes, for serious violations of international human rights law in Belarus.