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Human Rights Council – 32nd session (13 June – 1 July 2016) Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus

21 June 2016

Ireland aligns with the statement of the EU and adds the following.

Mr President

Ireland welcomes the Special Rapporteur and thanks him for his comprehensive report. Ireland deeply regrets that Belarus continues to deny the Special Rapporteur access to the country or to engage with him on his mandate.

As the report points out, there have been some recent positive signals from Belarus including the peaceful conduct of last year’s Presidential election, the release of political prisoners and Belarus’ active engagement with the Universal Periodic Review. Nevertheless, we agree with the finding that there has been no systematic change in the situation with regard to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law in Belarus and that the situation remains one of deep concern.

Released prisoners have not had their civil or political rights restored and serious restrictions remain on freedom of assembly, expression and association. Addressing these issues, including barriers to the registration of political parties, is essential prior to the September parliamentary elections if the Government of Belarus is to demonstrate genuine commitment to democratic credentials. In particular, we urge Belarus to quickly implement the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR report which identified shortcomings in the conduct of the Presidential Elections.

The continuing operation of the death penalty in Belarus is another matter of grave concern and we repeat the Special Rapporteur's call for Belarus to initiate a legal moratorium on capital punishment with a view to its abolition. We share his view that progress can be made on this issue if the necessary political will exists.

In light of the above, we believe it is necessary for the Human Rights Council to maintain its scrutiny of the serious human rights situation in Belarus and call on all States to support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur as contained in the draft resolution put forward by the European Union.

Finally, we would like to ask the Special Rapporteur to identify the key steps which he considers should be taken by the Government of Belarus in the coming months to allow civil society groups and political parties to participate meaningfully in the parliamentary elections?

Thank you