The UK has again voiced its concerns over Belarus’ treatment of human rights today, following the hijacking of a Ryanair plane in May.
“The United Kingdom remains deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Belarus,” the UK’s ambassador to the United Nations and World Health Organisation in Geneva, Simon Manley, said.
“Tightening the laws on media and mass events has made it more difficult than ever for individuals to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly, freedoms of association and expression, and for journalists to carry out their work safely.”
The comments followed a draft resolution titled ‘Situation of human rights in Belarus’, which the UK has co-sponsored.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has been sued for the hijacking, which saw the Lithuania-bound plane grounded in Minsk and Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich who detained.
The European Union agreed to impose sanctions against Belarus in late June, which is set to include a ban on new loans, a ban on EU investors from trading securities or buying short-term bonds and a ban on EU banks from providing investment services.
“The forced diversion and landing of a civilian airliner in Minsk in order to arrest an independent journalist and his partner, and the recent crackdown of regional non-state media, has highlighted the lengths that the Belarusian authorities will go to in order to try and silence critical voices,” the ambassador continued.
“The number of people detained on political grounds increases by the day.”
The leader has been in power since 1994 and faced weeks of mass protests last year after he was declared the winner of a presidential election that his opponents said was rigged.
Dozens of people were detained following the 9 August election, after thousands reportedly took to the streets.
The UN and WHO ambassador said that Belarusian authorities have ‘refused’ to investigate “thousands of allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention.”
Manley advised the mandate of the special rapporteur be extended for another year to ensure Belarus’ treatment on human rights is recorded.
Lukashenko visited another controversial European figure earlier today, Russian president Vladimir Putin, as Belarus has increasingly relied on Moscow’s support amid increasing tensions with the West.
The Belarusian president thanked Putin for “very serious support from Russia” and said that the country would repay its loans.