Labor activists must be released immediately.
On June 18, the Committee on the Application of Standards within the framework of the 109th session of the International Labor Conference approved a conclusion on the implementation by Belarus of the norms of Convention No. 87 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on freedom of association and protection of the right to join trade unions, reports naviny.online.
The meeting was held online. The text of the conclusion was announced by the chairman of the committee, Corine Elsa Angonemane Mvondo. The video recording of her speech was posted on its website by the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP).
In conclusion, the committee "with deep concern and regret" drew attention to "numerous statements about extreme forms of violence and suppression of speeches by participants in peaceful protests and strikes." “We are talking about the detention, imprisonment, and torture of workers who were placed in custody after the presidential elections in August 2020,” the document says.
The Committee “expressed deep concern” that the Belarusian government had not taken action to implement most of the 2004 Commission of Inquiry recommendations regarding Convention No. 87.
The Committee on the Application of Standards called on the government to “immediately restore full respect for the rights and freedoms of workers” and “to guarantee adequate protection or immunity from any form of administrative detention for trade union officials who carry out their activities and enjoy their civil liberties, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”
The government of Belarus called on “to take measures to release all detained trade unionists and to refrain from any persecution of those who participated in peaceful protests, to refrain from arresting, using violence or intimidation against trade union leaders who are engaged in their legitimate activities.” The Committee called on Belarus to immediately conduct an independent investigation of all reported cases of intimidation and use of violence.
The committee also called on the government at the legislative or law enforcement level to remove obstacles to trade union registration and “in the strongest possible manner” called on Belarus “to refrain from any interference in the process of union formation in private enterprises, to abandon calls for the creation of trade union organizations under the threat of liquidation of companies, and also openly declare that the creation of trade unions remains precisely the right of workers.”
Belarus was called on to bring legislation on mass events and other acts in line with the principles of freedom of assembly, to abandon sanctions against trade unionists who participated in peaceful protests, not to prevent trade unions from receiving assistance from foreign organizations, etc.
“The committee is disappointed with the slow progress in implementing the recommendations of the commissions of inquiry,” the conclusion says. “Recent events show that the government has taken a step back in terms of obligations to comply with the norms of the convention. Therefore, the committee calls on the government, before the next conference, to take all necessary measures to fully implement the remaining recommendations of the commission of inquiry. The Committee invites the government to use the technical assistance of the ILO.”
Belarus was once again included in the list of countries that systematically violate the rights of workers and trade unions.