Sunday October 02, 2022

Nearly 1,300 political prisoners in Belarus: UN

September 24, 2022

GENEVA: The United Nations warned on Friday of a deteriorating rights situation in Belarus amid a massive crackdown on civil society that has left nearly 1,300 people detained on political grounds.

"The climate of repression (in Belarus) continues with a deterioration of the human rights situation, involving serious violations of civil and political rights, and rampant impunity," said acting UN rights chief Nada Al-Nashif.

In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, slammed by Belarus, she said her office was seeing "a massive crackdown" on civil society, media and others. The UN rights office has been examining the situation in Belarus in the run-up to and aftermath of contested 2020 elections that handed veteran strongman Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term.

It already determined that at least 37,000 people were detained between May 2020 and May 2021, and while many were subsequently released, fresh arrests are continuing. Since the rights office’s last update in March, Nashif said, the number of people detained on what are believed to be "politically motivated charges grew to 1,296 from 1,085."

They included opposition candidates, political activists, rights defenders, trade union activists, journalists and protesters, often rounded up on charges related to "extremist" activity, tax evasion and even "high treason", she said.