A discussion related to human rights violations observed in Belarus was approved on Monday by the Human Rights Council. The debate, which has been requested by the European Union, will be held on Friday at the Palais des Nations.
The UN Human Rights Council will urgently examine the situation in Belarus on Friday. At the start of 3 weeks of work by the body in Geneva, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Monday asked for investigations into the accusations of torture.
An urgent debate had been requested by the EU, which denounces a recent presidential election which was not “free, nor fair”, and also wanted by sixteen local and international NGOs. It was approved by 25 member states of the UN body, against 20 abstentions and 2 oppositions.
This “manipulation of the Council” is “unacceptable” and constitutes “a dangerous precedent” of interference in the elections of a country, said for his part the representative of Belarus to the UN in Geneva. According to converging sources, the discussion on Friday morning should lead to a resolution which will require a follow-up of the situation. But this will not a priori be conducted by an international commission of inquiry.
President Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected a little over a month ago after a contested ballot. Since then, tens of thousands of people have regularly demonstrated against the head of state and thousands of arrests have been launched by the security forces.
According to testimonies from victims, at least 450 people have faced torture. These acts were targeted by several independent UN experts, including the special rapporteur against torture, the Zurich resident Nils Melzer.
On Monday before the Council, like UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres before her, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for investigations into these allegations of torture. It targeted the prosecution of “excessive and unjustified use of force” by the authorities.
Many arrests appear to be arbitrary, cases of sexual violence have been reported and media workers are harassed, she said. The government does not seem to have taken the slightest measure in the face of this attitude, she still laments.
Concern over Hong Kong
As hundreds of NGOs last week called on the UN for action against China, Michelle Bachelet reiterated her concern about the new security law in Hong Kong. Several dozen people have already been prosecuted under this controversial legislation. The High Commissioner asks the authorities to reform her on all the negative components for human rights.
She also targeted an increase in acts against several communities in Rakhine and Chin states in Burma, some of which could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. She also called for an independent investigation into entire burnt areas in northern Rakhine. Switzerland has called on the authorities to facilitate the access of the Rohingya minority to the November elections.
Michelle Bachelet also denounced the growing involvement of the military in political affairs in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has appointed a number of their representatives in his government. On the other hand, she noted that her office could send three times as many representatives to Venezuela after a recent agreement with the government of that country.
Request to the EU on migrants
Another concern, like other UN officials before her, the Chilean is calling on the EU and its members to show more solidarity after a fire in a migrant camp in Greece last week. She called for independent monitoring of refoulements and collective expulsions, “illegal” acts. Likewise, she wants an independent investigation into the explosion a month ago in the port of Beirut.
The High Commissioner also wants the release of all detainees arrested in the context of the recent military coup in Mali. She is due to speak during this 45th session on the follow-up to the resolution voted in July on systemic racism in the context of the death of African-American George Floyd. After that of another African-American in Kenosha, she called on Monday communities in the United States to implement their promises to improve the situation.
While the International Commission of Inquiry on Burundi is due to present its new report this week, the High Commissioner noted improvements in the prosecution of some members of the ruling party for alleged crimes. But arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as the destruction of homes of opponents, have continued since the presidential election in May, she lamented.