Alert: Torture survivors speak out in our new report on human rights abuses in Ethiopia

Belarus: International investigation mechanism needed

Oral statement
ITEM 2: Enhanced ID on HC report on Belarus (res. 45/1)

46th session of the Human Rights Council

Thank you, Madam President.

We welcome the High Commissioner’s report on Belarus, which corroborates evidence collected by the OMCT and its member CAT Russia during a series of on-site investigations that followed the August 2020 presidential election.

Law enforcement officials in Belarus committed unprecedented violations of human rights, in particular of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. There is reason to believe that torture was perpetrated as part of a systematic and widespread attack directed against the civilian population and that these acts may amount to crimes against humanity.

However, as of today, not a single criminal case has been opened into alleged violations by law enforcement officials.

It emerged from our investigation that a series of stratagems were used by authorities to frustrate any attempts by survivors to obtain justice. These include lumping together hundreds of cases to delay investigations, initiating criminal proceedings against victims who filed complaints or preventing their lawyers from doing so. Some lawyers had their licenses revoked or criminal cases opened against them.

It is clear that what we are seeing is a denial of justice that responds to political imperatives. Given the blatant failure by Belarus authorities to effectively investigate human rights violations, we urge this Council to call for the establishment of an international investigation mechanism. This body should be mandated to investigate not only the August 2020 events, but also the human rights violations that continue to this day.

Finally, investigations carried out by Belarus authorities should be closely monitored and a public assessment of theirperformance should be periodically conducted.

Thank you.

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