Human Rights Council 47 Session
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
Cross-regional joint statement
I have the honour to the deliver this joint statement on behalf of 45 of states.
We strongly condemn the forced diversion and landing of the civilian aircraft in Minsk on May 23, 2021 and the subsequent arrest of the journalist Raman Pratasevich and his partner by the authorities of Belarus. This act, apparently endangering the lives of the passengers and crew, was an attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms and an affront to international norms. We deplore the ongoing and systematic repression of the Belarusian people, which has continued to deteriorate since the most recent report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights H.E. Ms Michelle Bachelet to the Council in February.
The Belarusian authorities arrested Mr Raman Pratasevich due to his expression of views and opinions on social media. The arrest was designed to have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression by deterring others from continuing their work without fear of reprisal, leading to self-censorship, and affecting the ability of independent media to provide information to the public. These acts are further examples of attacks by the Belarusian authorities on freedom of expression including on members of the media, in particular on independent journalists and those affiliated with independent media organisations. Despite repeated calls from the international community, the deplorable pattern of attacks on media has intensified in recent months. Journalists continue to be arrested or sentenced to prison terms for exercising freedom of expression and independent media outlets are blocked and oppressed. We stand in solidarity with the imprisoned journalists in Belarus. We also express our deep solidarity with all Belarusian political prisoners whose number – reaching five hundred – has been continuously growing and includes a still broader range of members of targeted groups of society and its national minorities.
Moreover, we unequivocally condemn the harrowing public broadcasts of Mr Pratasevich and his partner, while under detention, including the staged interview of Mr Pratasevich’s broadcast on television. We concur with the statement by the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and reiterate that these broadcasts are deeply disturbing.
We call on Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Pratasevich and his partner as well as all those unjustly detained, including political prisoners. We call on the Belarusian authorities to cease their repressive campaign against the Belarusian people, including human rights defenders, journalists, civil society and national minorities, as well as end all violations of human rights. And we call on Belarus to respect its international obligations and the commitments it has made to respect, recognize and abide by international law.
I thank you.
List of countries (to be updated).
7. Costa Rica
31. New Zealand
32. North Macedonia
36. Republic of Korea
43. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
45. United States,