Human rights defenders prepared and sent a report on the Belarusian Government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
Under the coordination of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, experts from the Human Rights Centre "Viasna", Lawtrend, the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the PEN Belarus worked on the preparation of the report.
The report is drawn on the information from other civil society organizations, which, for the fear of reprisals for cooperating with the Committee, asked to preserve their anonymity.
In addition to the long-standing problems in the realization of social and economic rights, such as forced labour, problems of access to adequate health care in places of deprivation of liberty, the report highlighted key developments of the past two years in terms of perspective of economic, social and cultural rights in Belarus.
The experts drew the Committee’s attention to serious violations of the right to work, including politically motivated mass dismissals in various fields, and to problems in the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health.
The report also highlights violations of trade union rights in the context of the political crisis in Belarus, violations of the right to freedom of association (in particular, the mass liquidation of civil society organizations, those responsible for the protection and promotion of social, economic and cultural rights), violations of the right to education (in particular, the detention and harassment of students and teachers, politically motivated dismissals in the education system).
Separately, the experts drew the Committee’s attention to the situation in the country in connection with complex epidemiological context of COVID-19, as well as to the inconsistency and insufficiency of the measures taken by the Government to ensure the economic and social rights of citizens.
The document also contains a detailed description of the problems of inequality between women and men in labour relations, the disadvantages suffered by vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, and discrimination in general, including the absence of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.
The report contains a number of recommendations to the Government of Belarus, which human rights defenders believe will help to improve the situation and ensure overall conformity with the standards of the Covenant.
The report will be considered by CESCR at its 71st session that will take place from 14 February to 4 March 2022. The situation in Belarus will be considered on 15 and 16 February. The live broadcast of the Committee’s meeting will be available here.