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Belarus: Human Rights

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Belarus. (265589)

The full extent of our human rights concerns in Belarus is detailed in the 2008 Human Rights Report, which will be published on 26 March 2009. We remain concerned about the overall human rights situation in Belarus, but small improvements have been made in the areas of media freedom, freedom of assembly, electoral reform and political imprisonment during the six months from October 2008 to April 2008 that the EU suspended travel restrictions to encourage reform.

To reflect the mixed progress made by Belarus during this time, the EU has taken the decision to extend the suspension period for a further nine months, and renew the common position (the legal basis for the travel restrictions and an asset freeze) for 12 months. We will take this opportunity to continue to encourage Belarus to make further progress on human rights in order to align itself with EU standards.