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Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, presented her annual report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, pointing to Government policies that have systematically tightened legislation and restricted civil and political rights. She warned that the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus continues to engulf the country in a climate of fear and arbitrary rule.
She said it was a trend that has continued in the two years since the UN rights office, OHCHR, condemned violent crackdowns against hundreds and thousands of protesters who contested the result of presidential elections held in August 2020.
The independent expert highlighted the constitutional referendum of 27 February as a recent example of the trend, noting that the process lacked transparency and the vote was marred by serious violations that could not be considered free and fair. Moreover, the amended Criminal Code further restricts the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and expression.
In her report, the Special Rapporteur documented the legislation, policies and practices that have led to a “virtual annihilation” of independent non-governmental organizations, media, and cultural organizations. According to the report, authorities have hampered the legitimate and critically important work of human rights defenders and lawyers through various forms of harassment.
“Systemic human rights violations and impunity for those crimes have engulfed Belarus in a climate of arbitrariness and fear,” the Special Rapporteur spelt out.
She called on the international community to support and protect the human rights of Belarusian nationals who are compelled to leave their country due to State repression and intimidation.