The European Parliament has adopted a resolution about torture in Belarus and has called for economic sanctions

The European Parliament has sharply criticized gross human rights abuses, torture and the establishment of "an atmosphere of fear" in Belarus.

In the adoption on Thursday 10 March of the resolution on Belarus, the members of the European Parliament call upon on the competent institutions of the EU and partner countries to consider the extension of restrictive measures against prosecutors, judges and representatives of the KGB, who participated in human rights violations, unless the repressions are stopped.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) demanded from Minsk that it should start immediately to investigate reports of the use of torture on political prisoners. The use of torture is inhuman treatment, strictly prohibited by the norms international law and completely unacceptable in a European country. In the document it is also declared that the ongoing intimidation and harassment of opposition and independent media is intolerable.

The resolution especially singles out the case of Ales Mikhalevich, the former presidential candidate, who was arrested after the protests that followed the elections and released only after signing pledges to cooperate with the KGB, and Natalya Radina, editor of the opposition website, who was arrested for organizing and participating in mass protests after the election. She has also been released, but is not allowed to leave her town of residence prior to the conclusion of the investigation of her case.

“Ales Mikhalevich, one of seven presidential candidates who were detained on the day of the elections, was released on the condition that he would cooperate with the KGB. The politician has abandoned this commitment and at his own peril and risk made a public statement, in which he described the harsh conditions and different methods of physical and mental torture used by security forces against detainees.

Natalya Radina, the editor of the news site, who was also arrested after the election and has recently been released on condition of not leaving the country, made a public statement confirming the allegations made by Ales Mikhalevich. We declare our full support for the intentions of the public to reveal the truth and to speak on behalf of the people exposed to imprisonment and torture, denial of contact with their lawyers and families,” says the resolution.

MEPs condemned the Belarusian authorities’ lack of respect for fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression, and call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners; there is a separate protest against the custodial sentences given to Alexander Ostroshchenkov, the press secretary of presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, as well as to democratic activists Basil Parfenkov, Dmitri Novikov and Alexander Molchanov.

The resolution also contains a call to the European Council, European Commission, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and to all partners of the EU to extend the restrictive measures which will be applied to prosecutors, judges and KGB officers who are involved in repression and are involved in human rights violations in Belarus. In addition, the European Parliament believes that the EU Council should consider the introduction of targetted economic sanctions against Belarusian state enterprises.

MEPs also noted that whilst the Belarusian authorities do not take any steps to improve the human rights situation in the country, the process of convergence between the EU and Belarus will be suspended, including the framework of the “Eastern Partnership”. At the same time, they suggest that the EU should strengthen support for Belarusian civil society, including a simplification of the visa regime.