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Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 28 March 2017

Despite some positive steps, the human rights situation in Belarus remains of serious concern. We continue to raise human rights issues with the Belarusian authorities and use every opportunity to call on Belarus to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Will my right hon. Friend join calls led by the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee for the Belarusian President unconditionally to release all the many hundreds of people brutally arrested in Belarus over the last few days? Will he also consider asking the European Union to rethink its recent decision to lift the personal sanctions against the ruling Belarus elite?

Following the demonstrations on 25 March, the Foreign Office issued a statement on 26 March calling on the Belarusian authorities to respect and uphold the right to freedom of association, assembly and expression, and to release all the peaceful demonstrators still detained. Among those originally detained were two British nationals, but I am pleased to say that they have since been released.