Human Rights Council 54th session
Item 4 - Interactive dialogue on the interim oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus
Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden) to be delivered by
the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, H.E. Mr. Margus Tsahkna
22 September 2023
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Estonia.
The human rights situation in Belarus is catastrophic. The Belarusian authorities’ violations against civil society actors, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and media workers, anti-war protesters and opponents of the Belarusian authorities are increasingly massive and systematic and some of these violations may amount to crimes against humanity. The entire Belarusian society lives in fear of intimidation, harassment, prosecution, arbitrary arrests and detention.
Moreover, the decision by Belarusian authorities to ban citizens from renewing their passports abroad further intensifies repressions against Belarus people. Those in exile also face sham in absentia trials and can be deprived of their citizenship. We call upon Belarusian authorities for immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained persons, while the international community has a collective responsibility to ensure accountability for the violations of international human rights law and to continue fighting against impunity.
We reiterate our call to introduce a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
We will also continue our international efforts to hold Belarusian authorities accountable for the violations of international law committed in relation to Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.
Finally, we take note of recent reports that indicate systematic and large-scale actions by Belarusian authorities to deport Ukrainian children to Belarus. These actions include indoctrination and training aimed at erasing the children's Ukrainian identity and may constitute severe violations of the rights of the child and international law.
High Commissioner, how can the international community help ensure the safe return of Ukrainian children to Ukraine?
Thank you, Mr. President