UN Human Rights Council 41 Belarus

UN HRC Geneva

Thank you, Mr Vice-President.

The UK thanks the Special Rapporteur for her report on the situation of human rights in Belarus.

The UK notes the Special Rapporteur’s conclusion that Belarus has displayed greater willingness to engage with the international human rights system in the past few years. We also welcome the recent decision by the Belarusian authorities to suspend the construction of the car battery plant outside Brest, following demonstrations.

However, the UK is concerned by restrictions on human rights, such as freedom of expression, including for journalists and media workers. The arrest and harassment of some independent journalists in Belarus was deeply troubling and we are following how the amendments to the media law will affect them. The British Embassy in Minsk closely followed the trial of the chief editor of the independent media organisation tut.by in March 2019. We are pleased that a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will attend the Global Conference on Media Freedom in London on 10 and 11 July.

We are also concerned by the continuing use of the death penalty in Belarus. At least one further execution has been carried out since the report. The UK is concerned by the authorities’ refusal to provide details to next of kin and we note that this amounts to a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The UK remains opposed to the death penalty in all its forms and calls on Belarus to establish a moratorium as a step towards full abolishment.

The UK asks the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on her concerns about the effect forthcoming elections in Belarus may have on the human rights situation.

Thank you, Mr Vice-President.

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