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HRC44: Nordic countries address the human rights situation in Belarus   

Human Rights Council, 44th Session
Item 3 – Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur
on Situation of Human Rights in Belarus

14 July 2020

Statement on behalf of the Nordic countries

Thank you Madam President,

I have the honor of speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries: Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.

The Nordic Countries thank the Special Rapporteur for her important work and her latest report. We strongly support her mandate and regret the lack of cooperation by the Government of Belarus to the requests made by the Council, including not allowing the Rapporteur access to the country.

We express our deep concern for the continuous difficult circumstances for civil society and political persecution in the country, including persecution of independent trade unions. We regret that human rights, such as freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion and expression continued to be violated throughout the reporting period. Since June 18 alone, more than 200 political activists, opposition candidates, human rights defenders, journalists and other members of civil society have been arrested during peaceful demonstrations. We are deeply concerned about the arbitrary arrests, harassment and detention that now take place in the lead-up to presidential elections to be held on 9th  August. This is particularly disappointing considering certain signs of growing cooperation by Belarus during the last few years with, inter alia, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

We strongly urge Belarus to take concrete tangible steps towards a safe and enabling environment for the civil society, and particularly to ensure the integrity and fairness of the ongoing electoral process, and the legitimacy of its outcome. We also stress the importance of OSCE/ODIHR election observation of the electoral process.

We reiterate the need for Belarus to abolish death penalty. We welcome the establishment of the Working Group for studying the abolition of death penalty, but stress that this must be followed by action.

Madam Special Rapporteur,

what immediate measures can be taken to end the criminal and administrative sanctions to persons organizing, calling for or participating in peaceful assemblies, especially prior to elections?

Thank you.

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