The Belarusian authorities are conducting a targeted campaign of intimidation against civil society in an effort to silence all critics of the government. Following the disputed presidential election on 9 August 2020, hundreds of thousands of people across the country took to the streets to protest the announced result. Peaceful protests continue and reprisals against protesters continue too, with frightening regularity and increasing severity. Riot police have used unlawful force, detaining thousands of people. Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention are widespread. Over 33,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations or voicing their dissent and an increasing number are being prosecuted under trumped up criminal charges and handed prison sentences.
In the joint statement Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Media Support (IMS), Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR), Frontline Defenders and People in Need call on the Belarusian authorities:
- To abide by their international human rights obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression of all people in Belarus.
- To fully respect and protect the work of human rights defenders and ensure that everybody has the right to complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and government bodies and to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- In line with these obligations, to release Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chepyuk, Tatsyana Lasitsa, Leanid Sudalenka, Syarhei Drazdouski, and Aleh Hrableuski immediately and unconditionally as they have been detained for their legitimate human rights work, drop charges against them and ensure their right to a remedy for unfounded criminal prosecution.
- To comply with their international human rights obligations under the UN Convention against Torture and carry out prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by Syarhei Drazdouski, Aleh Hrableuski, and Dzmitry Salauyou
- To comply with their international human rights obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the rights of all persons deprived of their liberty to reasonable accommodations and the right to effective access to justice on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural accommodations in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stage.