House of Lords written question – answered on 11 October 2012.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the International Democrat Union on 30 August expressing concerns about human rights in Belarus.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We share the concern expressed by the International Democrat Union (IDU) about the human rights situation in Belarus. It was disappointing that the September 2012 parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair. Whilst we welcome the improvements to the electoral law made in advance of these elections, they did not go far enough.

The promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart of UK foreign policy. We remain concerned about the Belarusian authorities' treatment of oppositionists, human rights defenders, independent journalists and lawyers, particularly those who remain detained in very difficult conditions, inconsistent with UN standards.

The British Government echo the IDU call on Belarus to release and rehabilitate all political prisoners as soon as possible. We also call on the Belarusian authorities to co-operate fully with the newly appointed UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Belarus, Miklós Haraszti.

The UK will continue to work with its international partners to hold the Belarusian Government to account for violating its international human rights commitments.

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