OSCE called on Belarus to release political prisoners

At the 22nd Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held in Istanbul from 29 June to 3 July 2013, the OSCE committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions adopted a resolution on Belarus and urged the Belarusian authorities to release and exonerate all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE has again called upon the government to allow representatives of the PA to visit the political prisoners in Belarusian prisons.

The resolution condemns the treatment of the political prisoners, who are kept in prisons on politically motivated charges and in many cases are deprived of the right for regular meetings with counsels and relatives, and other treatment, humiliating a person’s dignity and equal to tortures.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE calls to start an international investigation on the treatment of political prisoners incarcerated in Belarus, including allegations of torture by current and former prisoners, like Ales Mikhalevich, Andrey Sannikau and Anatol Liabedzka.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly condemned the treatment of political prisoners, including political opponents, human rights defenders and activists, incarcerated on politically motivated charges, and in many cases denied regular access to their lawyers and relatives, as well as other degrading treatment amounting to torture and urged the Government of Belarus to suspend any restrictions on movements imposed on political prisoners who have been given a suspended sentence, including Iryna Khalip, Uladzimir Niaklyayeu, Vital Rymasheusky, Siarhei Vazniak, Andrey Dzmitryeu, Aliaksandr Fiaduta and others

The document also contains the appeal to official Minsk to restore the licenses of the lawyers, who were deprived of them or had to resign under pressure for protecting oppositionists and civil activists.

The authors of the resolution urge the authorities to stop putting pressure and persecuting the representatives of civil society, in particular youth organizations and movements, trade unions, independent media and human rights activists.

The government is suggested “to consider a possibility of carrying out substantial legislative reforms with the aim of bringing the country’s laws in compliance with European standards, including the elimination of the misbalance in the distribution of power in favor of the executive branch, established by the country’s Constitution of 1996, with especial attention to decreasing the dependence of the judiciary from the executive power”.

The OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly also urges to abandon the article 193.1 of the Criminal Code (activities on behalf of an unregistered organization).

The resolution contains regrets about the limited cooperation of Belarus’ government with many institutions of the OSCE and also a working group of the PA OSCE on Belarus, which did not receive any invitations to visit the country.

The document notes that human rights violations in Belarus “are still of a systemic and endemic nature, which is visually proven by the centralization of the legislative and executive powers in the hands of the president, whose decrees are the main legislative mechanism in the country, which undermines the role of the parliament”.

OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly calls upon Belarusian authorities to “follow their obligations within the OSCE regarding the freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech and to liberalize the legislation and practice by the means of providing citizens with a right to express public protest on the Internet and through other channels likewise”.

The resolution states the necessity to cancel all the death penalty verdicts already passed in Belarus and immediately start working on the abolition of death penalty.



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Other political prisoners