2011 30/11
ААН

The sentencing of leading Belarusian human rights defender, Ales Bialiatski to 4.5 years in prison last week is disappointing and we are concerned that it will have a negative impact on the ability of Belarusian civil society to operate freely and without fear.

Acting Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Subject: Belarus

The sentencing of leading Belarusian human rights defender, Ales Bialiatski to 4.5 years in prison last week is disappointing and we are concerned that it will have a negative impact on the ability of Belarusian civil society to operate freely and without fear.

The harsh sentence on charges of tax evasion comes as arrests, interrogation, office raids, confiscation and other forms of intimidation have stifled the space for non-governmental organisations in Belarus. The National Assembly of Belarus has also recently approved measures further restricting freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression in the country.

We reiterate our call to the authorities in Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release all political opponents, activists and journalists jailed for exercising their fundamental human rights, and to put an end to political and administrative measures designed to harass human rights defenders.

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