Human Rights Council 53rd Sessions: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus - PR UN, WTO and other organisations Geneva

Human Rights Council - 53rd Session:  Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus - Speech | 05-07-2023

Delivered by Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Thank you Mr. President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur for the presentation of her report.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands condemns the ongoing perpetration of serious human rights violations by the Belarussian authorities as highlighted in the Special Rapporteur’s report. In particular, we want to express our concern about the weaponization of the criminal justice system against human rights defenders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich and Dzmitriy Salauvyou from the Viasna Human Rights Center, who were sentenced on politically motivated charges on 3 March 2023.

We call upon the Belarussian authorities to immediately release all political prisoners in Belarus, and call for their full legal redress.

Furthermore, we express our concern about the repressive measures taken against those Belarussian citizens who express their opposition to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Belarus has facilitated. We call on the Belarussian authorities to respect their citizen’s right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by the Belarussian constitution and the ICCPR to which Belarus is a State Party.

Ms. Special Rapporteur, can you share your view on how the international community can better support Belarusian journalists and media workers in exile, including on how to effectively reach audiences inside Belarus?