Belarus: Police Brutality

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 24th February 2021.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make representations to the Government of Belarus on (a) police in that country beating up and arresting workers at their workplaces and (b) other instances of police brutality.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Belarusian counterpart on reports of trade union and human rights abuses by Belarusian authorities.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make representations to his Belarusian Counterpart on the reported raid of the offices and homes of trade union activists and human rights defenders on 16 February 2021.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Government is deeply concerned by the continuing campaign of oppression against the opposition movement and attacks against those seeking democratic and progressive reform in Belarus. The UK initiated the independent investigation under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism into the systematic violation of people's rights and has supported the UN Human Rights Commissioner in providing a comprehensive report on the situation. The Government has repeatedly condemned the actions of the Belarusian regime and called for the release of all those arbitrarily arrested, including workers facing politically motivated criminal charges.

The Government has raised our concerns directly to the authorities through bilateral representation and with our international partners. Her Majesty's Ambassador spoke directly to the Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister on 21 January. The Foreign Secretary issued a Joint Statement with the Canadian Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, on 17 February to condemn the assault on civil liberties, following coordinated raids by Belarusian security forces against human rights, independent media and trade union organisations. In parallel, the British, US and Swiss Embassies in Minsk, alongside the EU delegation, issued a joint statement condemning the raids and calling for the cessation of attacks against civil society, trade union representatives and defence lawyers.

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