UN Special Rapporteur Miklós Haraszti [official profile] on Thursday warned [press release] that Belarus continues to sentence and imprison political opponents of the government. Haraszti cited examples from April and May where existing prisoners we given extended sentences or placed under worse conditions and called for their release
This year, the authorities chose in several cases to extend prison sentences of already incarcerated political opponents or impose harsher prison conditions, on differently formulated but similar grounds…
I urge the Belarus authorities not only to release, but also to fully rehabilitate political opponents who have been imprisoned.
Haraszti said the situation was particularly concerning given the country’s upcoming October presidential elections.
Haraszti was appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus in 2012 and has been critical of the country’s judicial and penal systems. In March 2014 he called for the country to end its use of the death penalty, reiterating [JURIST reports] earlier statements and citing politically motivated courts and the lack of fair trials. In 2011 former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay suggested a need for UN intervention [JURIST report] in Belarus and demanded the nation free non-violent political prisoners. Although Belarus is an active member of the UN and has ratified many of its human rights policies, Pillay noted a sharp deterioration in human rights since the 2010 disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko [BBC profile], who has been in power since 1994.