Belarus: MEPs strongly condemn the continuous human rights violations by state authorities 

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MEPs and experts discussed the international efforts to investigate human rights abuses and seek justice for victims in Belarus, on Tuesday afternoon.

During the debate, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Benedek presented the content of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) new report under the Moscow Mechanism on alleged human rights violations in Belarus following the fraudulent presidential elections on 9 August.

Members expressed their deep concern over the findings, which clearly point to a continuous brutal crackdown by states authorities and security forces on peaceful protesters, arbitrary mass arrests of demonstrators, civil society representatives and independent journalists, documented torture of detainees and several other severe human rights abuses.

They also conveyed their genuine appreciation for the Belarusian citizens, including human rights defenders, who continue to work on collecting and documenting witness statements and evidence of the brutality on the ground.

A new sanctions regime needed

MEPs also heard testimonies from Anaïs Marin, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, and Eugenia Andreyuk, human rights lawyer and expert on the International Committee on Investigation of Torture.

Most of the participants stressed the need for the EU to keep pushing for an international investigation of the crimes committed by the Belarusian state and to set up and support new mechanisms to help victims with criminal proceedings, in cooperation with international law experts.

They also called on the EU to start moving from words to action, including by finally putting in place a global human rights sanctions regime, in order to target individual perpetrators in Belarus with sanctions. All the regime officials responsible for grave crimes must be brought to justice, MEPs underlined.

Members also called on the Belarusian authorities to start cooperating with international representatives and organisations, such as the OSCE and the UN Special Rapporteur.

For all the interventions in full, you can watch the debate again here. (01.12.2020)

The debate was organised by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Human Rights in association with the delegations for relations with Belarus and the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.

Quotes

“Today, we have again condemned in the strongest terms the ongoing human rights violations in Belarus. We stand firmly behind the need to end impunity and bring justice to the victims, including by providing a platform for the international efforts to document and investigate human rights abuses, such as efforts carried out by the UN Human Rights Council and the OSCE. Our support will not stop here - we will keep shedding light on human rights abuses and giving a voice and support to the victims”, said Maria Arena (S&D, BE), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.

“The protests in Belarus are continuing for over 100 days now, despite the repression by state authorities. The shocking death of Raman Bandarenka shows that the peaceful protestors are facing extreme danger each time they take to the streets to express their legitimate demands, the most important of which is still the holding of free and fair elections. As we heard during our meeting today, the ongoing human rights abuses are massive, systematic and proven beyond doubt. Nevertheless, the authorities in Belarus are refusing to investigate numerous complaints from victims and to bring the perpetrators to justice”, said Urmas Paet (Renew Europe, EE), Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Almost four months have passed since the presidential election. The report submitted last month by the OSCE Rapporteur on the Moscow Mechanism, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Benedek, has established evidence of what we had vehemently denounced: massive electoral fraud and systematic human rights violations by Aliaksandr Lukashenka's regime. As the brutality against peaceful protesters shows no sign of abating, we must continue to cooperate with our international partners so as to bring comfort to the victims of repression, find a way out of the political crisis and ensure that those who have ordered or committed atrocities are brought to justice”, said Robert Biedroń (S&D, PL), Chair of the delegation for relations with Belarus.

“The European Parliament should support a Belarus justice hub, under its democracy support programmes. This hub, as it was already referred to in Parliament's resolution, could include a centre to collect evidence, and an international panel of law experts to assist with investigations in international and domestic courts, including when it comes to the matter of applying universal jurisdiction in torture cases”, said Andrius Kubilius (EPP, LT), Chair of the delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.