The fundamental principle for creating a just and humane society remains the protection of human rights. Unfortunately, we still encounter states where the rights and freedoms of the population are systematically violated. One such country is Belarus, where the authorities continue to be cruel and violate the basic rights of their citizens.
In the light of the ongoing events, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the government of the Republic of Belarus with an appeal on behalf of the entire international community, which demands justice in relation to the protection of human rights. He demands an end to the constant repression and the release of prisoners.
Repression in Belarus is a serious problem that is contrary to international law and its norms. The peaceful protests that began after the 2020 presidential election were violently suppressed by the government. Permanent arrests are unacceptable violations of human rights.
One of the most violated human rights in Belarus is the right to freedom of expression. The media are heavily censored, and journalists and bloggers are harassed and arrested for speaking out. Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society, and limiting this right means limiting the freedom of the people themselves.
In addition, the right to a fair trial is violated in Belarus. People are arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned without due process. This is contrary to the rule of law and makes it impossible to ensure justice and protect human rights.
Torture, Violence and Restrictions on Freedom: The Shadow Side of Human Rights in Belarus
Information received from the UN Human Rights Office indicates numerous cases of torture and violence against detainees in Belarus. However, the scale of violations associated with these forms of violence may be underestimated due to fear of reprisals, social stigma, and limited access to independent experts to investigate.
The report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also notes that court decisions in Belarus have become politicized and indicate an abuse of justice. Since 2021, more than ten amendments have been made to the legislation targeting political activity and opposition. The list of crimes for which the death penalty can be applied has also been expanded, including a new law adopted on March 9 establishing the death penalty for civil servants and military personnel convicted for “high treason”.
The report also notes that the situation continues to deteriorate, with the persecution and punishment of legitimate human rights activities becoming more severe. There are currently 1,462 people in detention on political charges.
State structures are also directing their efforts to stop the activities of independent organizations and the media. In addition, according to the report, the Belarusian authorities closed 797 non-governmental organizations, and another 432 organizations were forced to stop their work in order to avoid prosecution.
Of particular indignation is the practice of deprivation of citizenship, which is used by the Belarusian authorities in relation to those convicted on charges of “extremist activity.”
To solve this problem and bring Belarus into compliance with international human rights standards, a set of measures is required. First, the international community must continue to condemn human rights violations in Belarus and support the calls of the UN High Commissioner. Diplomatic pressure and sanctions should be used to convince the Belarusian authorities to change their policy.
Secondly, it is necessary to provide assistance and protection to the citizens of Belarus who become victims of human rights violations. Non-profit organizations, human rights groups and partner states should provide financial, legal and psychological support to victims of repression. This will help them find justice and restore their violated rights.
Thirdly, it is necessary to investigate all cases of human rights violations in Belarus. Independent experts and international organizations should be allowed to visit the country and document them. This will help to collect the necessary evidence for lawsuits and bring the perpetrators to justice.
In addition, the Belarusian authorities must change their policy and enter into a dialogue with the opposition and peaceful activists. It is necessary to create conditions for free and open public debate, respect for human rights and democratic principles.
The protection of human rights is an inalienable duty of every state, and Belarus is no exception. The authorities must realize that the suppression of the rights and freedoms of their citizens will only lead to further isolation and aggravation of conflicts.
Moreover, the Belarusian authorities must realize that respect for human rights is a key factor in a sustainable and prosperous society. Respect for the rights of citizens contributes to the development of trust, stability and international cooperation. In addition, respect for human rights helps to strengthen the institutions of civil society and the rule of law, which is the basis for the sustainable development of the country.
It must be emphasized that the protection of human rights is not an exclusively internal issue of each individual state, but is a problem of an international scale. The international community should provide support and assistance in solving this problem.
Violations of human rights in the global community
We cannot remain indifferent to human rights violations, no matter where they occur. The appeal to the Belarusian authorities is a reminder of the urgency of this problem and the need to take action to stop the repression and release the prisoners. Only through united efforts and consistent pressure will we be able to achieve progress and protect human rights in Belarus and everywhere. Situations of human rights violations arise in different countries of the world. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the countries where the protection of human rights is of serious concern:
Syria: A civil war continues in Syria that has resulted in severe human rights violations, including massacres, torture, forced disappearances and forced relocation.
North Korea: North Korea is known for its harsh regime where human rights are systematically suppressed. The lack of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, arbitrary detention and conditions in political prison camps are of serious concern to the international community.
Myanmar: Systematic human rights violations occur in Myanmar, especially against the Rohingya Muslim population. Ethnic cleansing, violence and forced flight led to a humanitarian crisis.
Venezuela: Venezuela has seen a deteriorating human rights situation, including restrictions on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention and torture. The economic and political crisis in the country has a serious impact on the lives of citizens.
China: There are restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion in China. In Xinjiang Uygur Province, reports continue of systematic persecution and mass detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
Iran: Iran restricts freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. Political activists, journalists and human rights defenders are harassed, and the process of litigation does not always meet international standards of fairness.
Saudi Arabia: Violations of women’s rights continue, including restrictions on health care and education, as well as the systematic use of the death penalty and torture.
Turkey: Systematic repression of activists, journalists and opposition politicians continues in Turkey. Particular attention is paid to the situation in Kurdistan, where conflicts and persecution of the Kurdish population continue.
The examples discussed above are just a few of those States where human rights violations continue. Further efforts by the entire world community are needed to stop these violations and create conditions for a just and humane society.