Statement of Belarusian human rights organization Human Constanta
13 August 2021
In recent months, the pressure on Belarusian human rights defenders has been significantly increasing.
On 13 August 2021, a member of Human Constanta’s team Nasta Lojka was detained and transferred to the Financial Monitoring Department of the State Control Committee of the Republic of Belarus. Nasta managed to communicate that she was transported there for an interrogation.
Lately, Nasta has been actively involved on the issues of anti-extremism, rights of foreigners and stateless persons in Belarus, informal human rights education, and judicial monitoring.
Previously, other Human Constanta’s team members were searched and interrogated. Moreover, on 23 July 2021 dozens of Belarusian non-profits learned about the initiation of liquidation proceedings against them, including Human Constanta. Belarusian authorities have de facto tried to criminalize human rights work and use it to exert pressure on and persecute colleagues who defend human rights. Repressions of such scale are aimed at destroying not only human rights organizations, but all non-profit and civil society organizations and all community activism.
This statement is to draw attention to unprecedented pressure by the authorities on team members of Human Constanta and other human rights and civil society organizations exerted on them for their professional activities.
Such actions of Belarusian authorities constitute a blatant violation of international standards of human rights protection, namely the provisions within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on human rights defenders), OSCE Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, OSCE Joint Guidelines on Freedom of Association.
According to the Declaration on human rights defenders (article 1) «Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels». At the same time, the state shall take all necessary measures in order to ensure the protection, with the help of the competent authorities, of any person acting individually and in association with others, from any violence, threats, retaliation, negative discrimination de facto or de jure, pressure or any other arbitrary action in connection with the lawful exercise of his or her rights referred to in the Declaration on human rights defenders.
Hence, persecution for conducting lawful human rights work, organizing educational events, and providing free legal assistance is absolutely unacceptable.
Therefore, we, the members of Human Constanta team, demand that the state authorities of the Republic of Belarus:
- Immediately and unconditionally free Nasta Lojka and ensure her access to legal remedies against groundless criminal persecution.
- Immediately cease persecution and pressure on civil society, including criminal persecution of human rights defenders and civil society activists in connection with their lawful professional activities – conducting educational events, providing free legal assistance and other forms of support to victims of human rights abuses.
- Immediately free all political prisoners and end political repressions.
- Ensure non-interference into lawful human rights work, end intimidation and discreditation of human rights defenders and civil society activists.
- Fulfill its international human rights obligations.
As we have done before, we call upon international organizations to publicly express their position and assessment regarding the arbitrary detention of Nasta Lojka, as well as persecution of representatives of Belarusian human rights and civil society.
We also call upon the international community to make use of all available international accountability mechanisms to put an end to repressions in Belarus.