UN expert: Residents of Belarus are deprived of the right to freedom of association

Эксперт ООН: жители Беларуси лишены права на свободу ассоциаций

Protest in Minsk in August 2020. Photo from the archive UN expert: Residents of Belarus are deprived of the right to freedom of association Human Rights

In the four years since the “disputed” 2020 presidential election, Belarusian authorities have “eradicated freedom of association in the country,” Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on the situation, told the UN Human Rights Council today in the field of human rights in Belarus.

Suppression of freedom of association

In his annual report, Maren notes that in Belarus all forms of independent associations are purposefully suppressed, including civil society organizations and initiatives, political parties, trade unions, bar associations, religious and cultural organizations, as well as online communities.

According to her, the authorities used a range of measures to achieve this, including compulsory re-registration campaigns, restricting access to funding and prosecution for donations, liquidating associations with or without judicial action, classifying undesirable associations as “extremist groups”, as well as prosecuting their leaders , members, volunteers and supporters.

“Since January 1, 2021, Belarus has lost more than 1,500 registered public associations. All independent trade unions have been liquidated and the number of political parties has been reduced from 16 to 4 in the period leading up to the parliamentary elections in February 2024,” noted the Special Rapporteur.

“Everyone who ever dared to speak out against the government or its policies are behind bars or in exile,” she said.

Belarus Situation Report

Her report, which examines key human rights developments in Belarus from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024, also reflects other worrying trends: continued ill-treatment in places of detention, restrictive measures against Belarusian citizens moving abroad , persecution of minorities and members of the LGBTIQ+ community, criminal prosecution in absentia of alleged “extremists” in exile, as well as intimidation of their relatives and violation of the right to privacy.

Violent Treatment of Prisoners

“Of particular concern is the growing number of allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners convicted on charges that appear to be politically motivated, including those suffering from chronic and acute illnesses,” – Maren noted.

“According to reports received, since 2020, there have been more than a dozen deaths of prisoners, the cause of which was most likely inadequate or untimely provision of medical care. Several people deprived of their liberty have been incommunicado for more than a year, and their families are unaware of their fate, raising fears of possible enforced disappearances,” the expert warned.

Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN employees and are not dependent on any government or organization. They work in a personal capacity and are not paid for their work.


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