Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. Delivered by UK Human Rights Ambassador, Rita French.

Rita French

Thank you, Special Rapporteur, for your report and your service to the mandate.

The extent of Belarus’s repression is staggering: over 1400 political prisoners facing isolation, mistreatment, a lack of medical care and access to lawyers. We share your concern over the deaths in custody of six political prisoners since 2021. However, as your report notes, the regime’s repression goes far beyond this. Families of political prisoners also face harassment, as do exiled Belarusians (not least with the suspension of consular services abroad).

The report also notes the eradication of nearly all civic space. This has been aided by vague and extensive notions of ‘extremism’ and legislation that restricts access to funding.

The UK calls upon Belarus to act on the recommendations of this report. We urge Belarus to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, as well as to restore an open civil society.   

Special Rapporteur, how can we best signal to the victims and their families that they have not been forgotten?

Published 3 July 2024