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UN Human Rights Council 48: UK statement for the interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Belarus

UK International Ambassador for Human Rights Rita French gave a statement thanking the High Commissioner for the update on the human rights situation in Belarus.

24 September 2021

Thank you, Madam President.

The United Kingdom would like to thank the High Commissioner for the update on the human rights situation in Belarus. More than a year has passed since the fraudulent Presidential election and yet Lukashenko's campaign of repression continues unabated.

The forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 and the arrest of Roman Protasevich on May 23 was a shocking assault on human rights, international law and civil aviation. The UK continues to urge the Belarusian authorities to release Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, from house arrest. Protasevich is one of more than 650 political prisoners being held by the Belarusian authorities. The UK is also appalled at the sentencing of Maria Kolesnikova and Maxim Znak. This crisis will not be solved while Lukashenko continues to target all those who oppose him – rather than engaging in open, democratic debate with them.

Belarusian authorities continue to systematically target civil society and non-state media. Authorities have blocked access to, or shut down, at least 23 independent news websites and liquidated hundreds of civil society organisations, including the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Belarusian PEN Centre, and the Office for Rights of People with Disabilities.

Madam High Commissioner,

What more can the international community do to support civil society and independent media in Belarus?

Thank you.

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