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04 July 2022, 15:31

Highlights of Belarusian MFA's new report on human rights violations in the West

An archive photo
An archive photo

MINSK, 4 July (BelTA) – The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published the regular report “The most resonant human rights violations in certain countries 2022” on the ministry's website. After studying the document BelTA cites the most illustrative cases mentioned in the report.

Police violence in USA

The U.S. authorities fail to protect the public from police brutality. At least 1,124 people were killed by the police in 2021. The majority of killings occurred during non-violent offenses or when there was no crime at all.

Since 2015, the police have fatally shot more than 6,300 people, but only 91 officers have been arrested for murder or manslaughter stemming from an on-duty shootings, which represents a little more than 1% of fatal shootings. According to the U.S. media, in 2021 there were 693 mass shootings, up 10.1% from 2020. More than 44,000 people were killed as a result of gun violence.

The U.S. authorities do not follow the principles of fair trial and procedures. In her recent report, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, wrote that 38 Muslim men are still being held at Guantanamo Bay. Many of these men are entering their twentieth year in the custody of the United States. Many of the men are torture survivors. Twelve of them were charged with crimes related to terrorism, and go through the system of military commissions, not civilian courts. The Special Rapporteur stressed that the conditions in Guantanamo Bay meet the threshold for torture, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law.

The U.S. authorities have failed to provide their citizens with effective healthcare. Despite the availability of advanced medical equipment and technology, the United States recorded the highest number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the world. According to Johns Hopkins University, by the end of February 2022 the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has surpassed 78 million and the death toll has surpassed 940,000.

Brutality against migrants in Poland

An Amnesty International report confirms the multiple expulsions of migrants and Poland's disregard for asylum procedures and human rights guarantees.

Most of those who crossed the border into Poland were apprehended after just a few hundred metres by Polish border guards and deported back. It became known about the forcible deportation from the territory of Poland to Belarus of an 18-year-old Syrian national named Ismail who was in a state of extreme exhaustion and needed medical attention. The Polish border guards picked him up at night from a hospital in Siemiatycze, Podlaskie Voivodeship and push-backed him to the Belarusian side of the border.

In Poland, human rights are not respected in selected migrant detention camps, where they are held in conditions “below prison standards”, which pushes people to go on hunger strike to protest against the unacceptable conditions of their detention. The migrants in such centers are subjected to humiliating body searches and the fact that border guards address them by their rooms is an example of extreme dehumanisation. In addition, detainees are intimidated, guards take away their personal belongings and use pepper gas against them.

U.S. Secret Prisons in Lithuania

In her report in 2022 Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin recalled that the European Court of Human Rights recognized Lithuania, along with a number of other states, as complicit in the torture and enforced disappearance of prisoners under the U.S. rendition and secret detention programs. The special rapporteur called for an effective independent judicial or quasi-judicial investigation by governments, including Lithuania, into the credible allegations that secret prisons (“black holes”) have been set up on their territory.

Lithuanian authorities are evading the investigation into their involvement in torture in secret CIA prisons. They continue to deny having such prisons. At the same time, on 21 December 2021 the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice paid compensation to Palestinian Abu Zubaydah for illegal detention in a secret CIA prison near Vilnius. The fact that the European Court of Human Rights ordered Lithuania to pay this compensation refutes Lithuania's denial of hosting such prisons.

The state sanctions mistreatment of not only prisoners but also migrants. In July 2021 Lithuania adopted a law to restrict appealing against asylum denials and to allow possible deportation during the appeal process. Since then, detentions at the border have become commonplace, and migrants already intercepted or trying to enter Lithuaniahave been subjected to inhuman and cruel treatment. Lithuanian authorities confirm that as of April 2022, the right to access the asylum procedure was denied in 9,447 cases.

Total censorship and content blocking in Latvia

Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly rights are suppressed by forceful methods in Latvia. The Latvian authorities consistently strengthen censorship and block access to information depriving the population of opportunity to obtain information from alternative sources. In particular, Belarusian TV stations and the news website have been blocked. Media and social networks are subject to censorship, social network users and media owners are subject to administrative and criminal sanctions.

Citizens and aliens of Latvia are deprived of alternative sources of information – viewing prohibited media is punishable by a fine of €700. Legal entity may be fined up to €14,000 for distributing programs of banned TV-channels or broadcasting them.

Statements from high-ranking officials are starting to sound increasingly Nazi-like. Hate speech has become the norm for politicians in Latvia. Public insults and humiliation incite discord and discrimination in society.

Taking into account the ban on celebration of Victory Day in Latvia a significant number of security agencies were deployed to monitor order at memorial places on 8-9 May 2022. The flowers laid at the monument to the Liberators of Riga were promptly removed on 10 May 2022 with a help of a tractor. This action caused an outcry from a part of society: the residents of Riga who were not indifferent to what had happened brought flowers again and remained near the memorial for a long time to prevent similar actions from the city authorities and nationalist-minded citizens.

The country's government disapproved of the unsanctioned gathering of people at the monument in Riga and issued the appropriate orders. The police with the help of special agencies “cleaned up” the area around the main monument and blocked access to Victory Park. Member of the European Parliament Mrs. Tatjana Ždanoka and some activists who protested against demolition of the Monument of Liberators of Riga were detained. A young man who came to the park on 10 May with a Russian flag was accused of justifying the genocide. He is now looking at a five-year prison term. Some police officers lost their posts for letting people lay flowers at the monument. Victory Park will re-open only after the Monument of Liberators is demolished. The information about its demolition has been classified in order to avoid protests.

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