EP’s resolution: Belarus authorities must stop repressions and hold free elections

A resolution condemning human rights violations in Belarus was approved at the session of the European Parliament in Brussels on April 2.

The resolution was adopted by 594 votes in favour and 19 against, Radio Svaboda reports.

The resolution expresses MEPs’ concern over the human rights situation in Belarus. The MEPS urge the Belarusian government to reform legislation to provide guaranteed representation of opposition members on election commissions at all levels within a nine-month period of suspension travel bans; to provide equal rights to all media outlets by lifting a ban on dissemination of independent print media through state-owned distribution networks; to abolish articles of the Criminal Code, which are often misused to persecute journalists and members of unregistered NGOs.

The resolution also calls to guarantee freedom of association and assembly and freedom of religion as well as political rights and freedoms by discontinuing the practice of politically motivated dismissals from jobs and universities and stopping forcible army conscription.

The EP also calls on Minsk to establish a moratorium on all death sentences and executions, to recognise the Union of Poles led by Anzhalika Borys, to reconsider the cases of forcible drafting to the army such activists as Franak Vyachorka, Ivan Shyla and Zmitser Khvedaruk, to create conditions for the European Humanities University to return from Vilnius.

The European Parliament believes that development of the political dialogue between the EU and Belarus should depend on lifting restrictions on freedom and ending violence against participants of protest rallies and human rights watchdogs. In this connection the document contains a call to immediate release of public activists Mikalay Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, Uladzimir Asipenka and Artsyom Dubski.

MEPs also insist on participation of democratic opposition and civil society in the dialogue between the European Union and Belarus and express the hope that in the near future Minsk and Brussels would embark on a dialogue on human rights.

The Parliament of the European Union plans to call upon the European structures to take further steps to liberalise visa procedures and reduce the cost of Schengen visas for Belarusian citizens, to provide financial support to civil society, and in particular to the TV channel “Belsat” broadcasting for Belarus as well as to consider measures of improvement of business climate, trade conditions and investments to Belarus.

Should Belarus fulfil the above-mentioned recommendations, the EP calls on the Council and Commission to consider lifting the travel ban on Belarusian officials, as well as taking measures to facilitate economic and social progress and speeding up the process of Belarus’s reintegration into the European family of democratic nations.