PEN America Welcomes OSCE Report Outlining Belarus Human Rights Abuses
Report highlights lack of accountability; PEN America calls for additional focus on persecution of cultural leaders
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — A new report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says there is clear evidence of human rights abuses amid Belarus’ August presidential election. PEN America today welcomed the report’s findings and urged that future investigations focus on the way cultural figures and writers have specifically been targeted.
“We welcome this report, which marks an important international effort to document the human rights violations that have occurred in Belarus related to the August elections,” said PEN America’s Eurasia program director Polina Sadovskaya. “Although we would have appreciated a greater emphasis on the role of cultural figures in this protest, and the associated impact of the crackdown on cultural rights, the report is otherwise comprehensive, and its findings should raise global alarm at the outrageous violations that have taken place in Belarus. It is particularly striking that during the three months since the elections, the number of human rights violations in Belarus has only increased, and none of the perpetrators have been held to account. We hope that the release of this report will accelerate this process. We also urge the international community, and all OSCE states in particular, to demand accountability from Belarus and push forward the report’s recommendations.”
The report consists of three parts analyzing 1) allegations of human rights violations; 2) impunity and the lack of effective remedies; and 3) international reactions to allegations. According to the report, there have been “massive and systematic” human rights abuses in Belarus in recent months, and there is a clear link between them and election fraud, which the report also affirms. In the chapter related to freedom of expression and the media, the report points out that the authorities deprived at least 19 journalists of accreditation, whereas some 50 foreign journalists were denied accreditation or deported.
The report outlines numerous instances of risks to free expression. For instance, at an October 4 protest calling for the release of political prisoners, the report says representatives of the Belarusian Interior Ministry requested participants over loudspeakers not to hide their faces under a mask at mass events, presumably so they can be identified by authorities, and despite the prevalence of COVID-19 in Belarus.
Key findings of this report are related to the following major areas: respect of political rights; freedom of assembly; freedom of expression and the media; the right to access information; the right to liberty and security; the prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment; and protection from abductions and enforced disappearances.