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Opinions & Interviews

18 May 2017

European Union ready to assist Belarus with implementing national human rights plan

European Union ready to assist Belarus with implementing national human rights plan

MINSK, 18 May (BelTA) – The European Union is ready to assist Belarus with implementing the national human rights plan, BelTA learned from Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the European Union Delegation to Belarus, during consultations of experts about the fifth periodic report of the Republic of Belarus as part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 18 May.

Andrea Wiktorin said: “The European Union welcomed the development and adoption of the national plan on human rights in the Republic of Belarus. It was an excellent step. The implementation of this plan of action should be the next one.”

In her words, while building relations with all the countries, the European Union pays close attention to these matters. If some disagreements emerge, the sides try to address them consistently and constructively. Andrea Wiktorin also pointed out that the European Union is ready to assist Belarus with implementing the national human rights plan by providing opportunities for sharing the best practices with other countries and international organizations and opportunities for consultations between experts.

The United Nations Organization will also support Belarus in this sphere, noted UN Resident Coordinator Sanaka Samarasinha. He emphasized that the preparation of a regular report on the state of human rights was an important step for Belarus in this direction.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is one of the fundamental international treaties on human rights. Parties to the covenant vow to respect and secure civil and political rights of all the persons in their territories or under their jurisdiction. The rights include the right to life and human dignity, equality before the law, freedom of religion and privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association, freedom from torture, protection from ill-treatment and arbitrary detention, and the right to a fair trial. The covenant draws attention to equality of men and women and to rights of national minorities.

So far 169 countries, including Belarus, have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A UN Committee on Human Rights has been established to monitor the observance of the covenant by the signatories. The committee is made of 18 independent experts. All the signatory states are supposed to regularly inform the committee about how the rights the covenant stipulates are secured. A signatory state is supposed to submit one report one year after signing the covenant. Consequent reports are requested by the committee (every four years usually). The committee is supposed to study the reports and send remarks and recommendations to the signatory states in return.

Belarus sent its fifth periodic report in April 2017. The report contains answers to a list of questions formulated by the committee and sent to Belarus as part of preparations for the forthcoming dialogue. Belarus submitted the previous report to the UN Human Rights Committee in 1997.

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