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Belarus: Human Rights

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking at the United Nations to encourage action against Belarus on human rights. (126985)

The UK and the EU take every opportunity in the UN Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, to express our continuing concerns about Belarus’s human rights record. The UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus presented a report to the Human Rights Council in September 2006. The EU spoke in the council’s dialogue with the Rapporteur, expressing concern about the further weakening of the independence of the judiciary, intimidation of civil society activists, detention of political prisoners, and the situation of minority groups in Belarus. We will continue to use dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, and other relevant UN Special Rapporteurs, to register our concerns and press for improvements.

In November 2006, EU members co-sponsored a resolution on Belarus in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. It was duly adopted there and subsequently in the plenary session of the General Assembly. The resolution expressed deep concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, including Belarus’s failure to co-operate with the UN human rights mechanisms; its failure to conduct free and fair elections, including the detention and arrest of political and civil society activists; and persistent reports of harassment and closure of non-governmental organisations, national minority groups, independent media outlets, religious groups, opposition political parties and independent trade unions.