Joint statement by 19 states in support of the establishment of the International Accountability Platform for Belarus
March 24, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Statement on behalf of Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America:
“As documented in the Moscow Mechanism report by OSCE Rapporteur Professor Benedek, as well as the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports by international and Belarusian human rights institutions and civil society organizations, the Belarusian authorities have committed serious and unprecedented violations of international human rights law in Belarus before, during and after the presidential election on August 9, 2020. These violations include arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including sexual and gender-based violence. As one of the key recommendations in the Benedek report, it is vital to ensure accountability for the human rights violations in the context of the presidential elections.
“We stand in solidarity with the Belarusian people in their demand for a democratic transition. We reaffirm our unequivocal condemnation of the systematic and gross human rights violations and abuses in Belarus, as well as of the disrespect for democratic principles and the rule of law. We will continue to hold Belarusian authorities to account, and call for an end to the systematic oppression and persecution of peaceful and democratic movements and the immediate cessation of all violence, including the use of torture.
“As human rights violations are recurring in a culture of impunity in Belarus on a daily basis, there is an urgent need to ensure that evidence and documentation are collected and preserved in a secure and appropriate manner in accordance with international standards. The International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB) has taken responsibility for the collection, consolidation, verification and preservation of information, documentation and evidence of serious violations of international human rights law committed in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath. The IAPB will be led by DIGNITY – Danish Institute against Torture, with co-leads Belarusian Human Rights Center (VIASNA), the International Committee for Investigation of Torture in Belarus and REDRESS. The IAPB will be supported by a number of independent Belarusian and international organizations, which have a track record in the area of documentation and investigation of torture and other violations of international human rights law.
“We hereby provide our political support to this urgent action of the IAPB. We also reaffirm our support for the establishment of a UN Human Rights Council-mandated investigation under the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and supported by relevant experts, aimed at contributing to accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims in Belarus. The material collected by the IAPB will be handed over to such a UN investigation, once operational. The documentation collected by the IAPB will also serve any future independent criminal investigations and criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in regional, national or international courts or tribunals that have, or that may in the future have, jurisdiction over those crimes, in accordance with international law.
“The IAPB will carry out its work and functions independently and impartially.”
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
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