Belarus rights abuses may amount to ‘crime against humanity’


UN rights experts accused Belarus of systematic abuses, including the repression of protesters and dissidents, that could amount to crimes against humanity, in a report published on Friday.

Belarus’ permanent mission to the UN in Geneva quickly dismissed the report, calling it “a lobbying tool for Western countries’ anti-Belarusian agenda at the United Nations and the Human Rights Council.”

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The paper issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights covered the run-up to a disputed presidential election on Aug. 9, 2020, and a crackdown on demonstrators and critics in the months that followed.

“There are sufficient grounds to believe that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Belarus,” the report said.

“Some of the violations may also amount to crimes against humanity,” it added.

Violations included the security services’ “widespread unnecessary and disproportionate use of force,” torture, arbitrary arrests, and impunity, according to the report.

The abuses “appear to have been part of a campaign of violence and repression” against those critical of the government, the report added.

“We do regret that the government of Belarus has been unwilling to recognize the mandate, to positively engage with our examination and to grant access to the country,” Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch Russian ally who secured his sixth term in office in the vote, has dismissed accusations of violations and accused foreign powers of backing the protests.

He has ruled the former Soviet country with an iron hand since 1994.

Hundreds were detained and beaten during demonstrations after the election, which the opposition and Western countries said was fraudulent.

The report will be presented next week to the UN’s Human Rights Council, the only body made up of governments meant to protect human rights worldwide.

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