Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council on Belarus
On 23 September 2022, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), The Law Society of England and Wales, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe and Lawyers for Lawyers delivered an oral statement on the situation of human rights defenders in Belarus. The statement was delivered during the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The statement reads as follows:
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, Lawyers for Lawyers, and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada remain alarmed at the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus, including violations against lawyers. Since the 2020 elections, Belarusian lawyers have been subjected to politically motivated persecution, including disbarment, arbitrary arrests and detention, and prosecution, simply for performing their professional duties.
Since May 2022, over 200 lawyers have left the bar following detrimental amendments to the Law on the Bar and Legal Advocacy, becoming effective as of November 2021. This seriously restricts human rights defenders’ and citizens’ right to independent, effective legal representation.
We condemn the lack of accountability for gross human rights violations in Belarus since the 2020 elections, including widespread and systematic torture and ill treatment, disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and detention, also confirmed by the findings in the Report of the OHCHR Examination. The Report concludes that there is sufficient basis to warrant further assessment of available evidence for pursuing international criminal accountability.
We urge this Council to take all possible actions to ensure accountability, and prevent further deterioration of the situation in Belarus and adequately resource both the Special Rapporteur and the OHCHR Examination.
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