Speaking in a meeting of this Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet shared reports of over 27,000 arrests since 9 August, when protesters began contesting the effect of presidential elections.
“In the past month, tens of thousands of individuals continued to be detained each week throughout the demonstrations — with allegedly around 1,000 individuals on 8 November and 700 on 15 November, while allegations of accidents through dispersals and of ill-treatment throughout arrests continued to emerge”, she stated .
“Senior citizens have allegedly also been detained during the pensioners’ calm weekly marches”, she added, pointing out that on 30 November, a few 20 were detained.
The penalties levied on protestors seem to be growing more acute, the High Commissioner observed.
She advised that until lately, the majority of those detained faced administrative fees and were sentenced to fines or detention for up to 15 days.
But she observed that lately”rising numbers of demonstrators have been charged under various articles of the Criminal Code, which occasionally involve heavy prison sentences”.
“Overall, in the context of these elections, over 900 individuals have allegedly been treated as suspects in criminal cases”, the UN rights chief flagged, such as”opposition presidential candidates, supporters of the opposition, journalists, bloggers, attorneys and human rights defenders”.
Many stay in detention.
“Since the Council knows, police should ease peaceful assemblies, and also using force during protests must remain exceptional, proportionate along with also a step of last resort”, she informed. “Even when there are isolated acts of violence by a few participants, the whole meeting shouldn’t be deemed as losing its calm character”.
She informed the assembly that since 9 August, her office’s observation and evaluation of demonstrations imply that participants were overwhelmingly calm,”they had been and generally, violently dispersed”, such as by tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and stun grenades.
The High Commissioner expressed concern over reports that four people have died in presentations; protestors are being intentionally chased and pumped; detainees are being defeated by safety; and unknown masked guys are dispersing protests, together with riot police — heightening a climate of fear and impunity.
“If supported, these episodes would comprise ill-treatment and, sometimes, might amount to torture”, she spelled out.
Additionally, since end-Octoberup to 2,000 complaints are form of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment .
Safeguard rights defenders
Since August, 373 journalists are detained, six of whom are now detained, three to criminal charges.
“I deplore the ongoing harassment and arrests of several human rights defenders and journalists, in the context of their protests”, Ms. Bachelet underscored.
Meanwhile, the attorneys involved in human rights violations will also be under stress — with a few disbarred and others confronting criminal offenses — and disciplinary sanctions are being imposed on aspiring teachers and pupils.
Cease the rights offenses
The High Commissioner called on the authorities to put a stop to continuing human rights offenses, among other things, instantly releasing all those unlawfully arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of expression; honor the right of peaceful assembly; and guarantee transparent and independent investigations into all allegations of torture and other human rights violations.
Although access to Belarus hasn’t yet been allowed for a technical staff to evaluate the circumstance, Ms. Bachelet promised that she’d continue remote observation and report back with recommendations”to encourage strengthening individual rights and the rule of law, and growing accountable institutions”.
In its response, the Government of Belarus’s Permanent Representative to the UN at Geneva, Yuri Ambrazevich, stated that”most individuals were continuing with their regular lives” from the nation and also”the Government was working”, as were offices and factories.