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Khvostov: Recommendations of OHCHR report contradict UN Charter

MINSK, 28 June (BelTA) - The findings and recommendations contained in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Belarus violate the commitment of the High Commissioner to respect the national jurisdiction of States and run contrary to the United Nations Charter, Belarus’ representative to the European Office of the United Nations (Geneva) Mikhail Khvostov said in his speech at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, BelTA informs with a reference to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.

“The findings and recommendations of the report violate the commitment of the High Commissioner to respect the national jurisdiction of States, and run contrary to the UN Charter, the resolutions of the UN General Assembly,” Mikhail Khvostov said. He also noted that the recommendations on the implementation of the findings of the reports of the political mechanisms of certain regional organizations go beyond the mandate of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) and demonstrate the absence of unbiased attitude in the report.

Mikhail Khvostov pointed out that the report is not acceptable both from the legal point of view and informative one because it has nothing to do with human rights: “Report has been prepared pursuant to Resolution 17/24 (on the situation with human rights in Belarus – note by BelTA) which had been adopted by vote and which we have not recognized. The document has been prepared by the OHCHR through non-consensual mandate. Belarus refused to work on the basis of this mandate.”

The diplomat noted that the report misrepresents the events of 19 December 2010 and the post-election period, gives the incorrect assessment of the human rights situation in the country: “The OHCHR has not reflected the fact that is essential to understanding the events of 19 December. The report says nothing about the fact that when being at the House of Government certain ex-presidential candidates attempted a coup d'etat which resulted in riots and storming of the House of Government. The OHCHR report interprets these events as minor hooliganism of the demonstrators. But the OHCHR has refrained from assessing their actions.”

At the very beginning Belarus provided the OHCHR with complete information, including a video report and timeline of the events made by independent mass media. “I handed over the materials personally to the High Commissioner during our meeting in January 2011,” Mikhail Khvostov said. He emphasized that despite the real threat to the constitutional order on 19 December 2010, the police did not use tear gas, or water cannons or rubber bullets. “Participants of the mass riot were arrested, all in all about 600 people. Each of them faced court trial/went to trial?. All the court hearings were open,” the diplomat said.

Except for that, the report said nothing about the position of the Belarusian government on the 19 December 2010 events. “However, the relevant information was submitted to the OHCHR,” Mikhail Khvostov said. The OHCHR indicated that the report was based on secondary sources. “We appreciate they admitted that because it makes many things clear. What sources were used to prepare the report? About 40 out of 79 references refer to the views of a group of NGOs, including those who do not operate in Belarus,” the diplomat said.

“Belarus is a democratic country. Therefore, we do not have to take a democracy exam to anyone. The situation with human rights is in many ways better in Belarus than in the European Union and it does not require separate consideration. Most of the EU countries lag behind Belarus in terms of some social, economic, cultural and other rights,” Mikhail Khvostov said.

He noted that former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg admitted that the situation with human rights is getting worse in the European Union, especially in respect to gypsies and children of immigrants. Besides, Mikhail Khvostov underlined that many of the co-authors of Resolution 17/24 lag behind the cooperation level between the Belarusian state with UN human rights mechanisms. “Over the past 12 years no visits have been paid to the EU by special rapporteurs on involuntary disappearances, extrajudicial killing, freedom of assembly, human rights activists. Over the time under review, Belarus has been visited by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and the special rapporteur on independence of judges,” the Belarusian diplomat said.

Moreover Belarus had a dialogue with the Committee against Torture in November 2011 and presented a report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in November 2010. “We have invited the High Commissioner to visit Belarus,” Mikhail Khvostov stressed.

The EU, the U.S. and some other countries introduced unilateral political and economic sanctions following the 2010 December events. These sanctions included visa restrictions which violate human rights for freedom of movement and travel. “What was the OHCHR reaction to these illegal steps contradicting the Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly and the Council on Human Rights? There was no reaction at all, but we will expect it from the High Commissioner,” the diplomat added.

The diplomat noted that the EU has its own interests and goals regarding Belarus, and the main one is to change the government at any cost. “We are aware of these goals, and therefore we have a well-founded distrust of the EU. We will never agree with the decisions, findings and recommendations that lead to social and economic shocks and contradict the interests of our national security,” he stressed.

“What democracy does the EU offer Belarus when it denies the woman the right to wear a hijab, or when it prohibits constructing buildings to worship another religion? The EU political strategy towards Belarus is a political deadlock for the EU,” Mikhail Khvostov stated.