Human Rights Watch: UN sent a message that it stands by Belarusian
22:41, — Politics
The United Nations Human Rights Council took bold action to address the chronically poor human rights situations in Belarus and Eritrea.
Human Rights Watch said about it today, at the closing of the council’s 20th session.
The council unanimously condemned the “widespread and systematic violations” in Eritrea and appointed aUN expert to investigate rights violations in the country. The council also appointed an expert to monitor the human rights situation in Belarus, in a vote of 22 to 5, with 20 abstentions.
“The Human Rights Council has finally condemned Eritrea for its appalling human rights record,” said Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. “Now that the UN has appointed an expert to investigate and report on abuses, Eritrea can no longer use its political isolation to avoid international scrutiny.”
The Human Rights Council resolution on Eritrea condemned abuses including the detention of journalists, human rights defenders, political reformists and religious leaders; as well as forced conscription, enforced disappearances, torture, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression. It also denounced the government's “shoot to kill” policy to prevent Eritreans from escaping the country.
The country holds an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 political prisoners, and the resolution called on the government to release them. It also called on the government to end indefinite military service, torture, and arbitrary detention and the “guilt by association” policy that targets family members of those who evade national service or seek to flee Eritrea. Eritrea should give free and unhindered access to the UN expert to carry out the council’s mandate, Human Rights Watch said.
The council also took decisive action on the continuing crackdown against dissenting voices and civil society activists in Belarus since the December 2010 presidential election. The council appointed a UN expert to document and report back on violations in Belarus.
“The Human Rights Council sent a strong message that it stands by Belarusian activists and will scrutinize and speak out against Belarus' oppression of peaceful dissent,” de Rivero said. “It’s vital for the new expert to shed light on the root causes of rights violations in Belarus.”
More than a dozen opposition members and human rights activists are serving long prison sentences in Belarus as a result of politically motivated charges and unfair trials, Human Rights Watch said. These include Ales Bialitski, president of the Viasna Human Rights Center and vice-president of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). Dozens of others have been arbitrarily detained for short periods on bogus charges to harass or intimidate them, Human Rights Watch said. The Belarus government continues to restrict the right to freedom of association and prohibits many human rights activists from traveling in and out of the country.
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