UN urges Belarus to drop charges against Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bialiatski, other rights defenders
Ales Bialiatski faces up to 12 years in jail, says Human Rights Office
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The UN Human Rights Office on Friday urged Belarus to drop charges against Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski and two other rights defenders.
"Bialiatski faces up to 12 years in jail. Two other representatives of his Viasna Human Rights Center are also facing prison sentences. We have serious concerns about the conduct of their trial," said Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement, adding that the UN is "gravely concerned" by the trial which began on Thursday.
"We call for the charges against them to be dropped, and their immediate release from detention," Laurence urged.
Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovic, and Viasna’s lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich were arrested in July 2021, following mass demonstrations against the regime in 2020. He was previously jailed from 2011 to 2014.
The trio are accused of smuggling, illegal movement of cash across the customs border, and financing group actions “grossly violating the public order."
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Bialiatski on Oct. 7, with the committee lauding the Belarusian activist for devoting his life to "promoting democracy and peaceful development in his home country."
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