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New initiative led by Danish DIGNITY and supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will collect evidence of gross human rights violations in Belarus

24.03.2021  11:27
The situation in Belarus is deteriorating day by day and several international reports confirm long-standing and systemic human rights violations, including the use of torture, arbitrary detentions as well as severe restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression. At the same time, those responsible for human rights violations continue with impunity.

Denmark has therefore worked closely with Germany and the United Kingdom to ensure broad international support for the establishment of the International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB), which was launched today. 19 countries (Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) have declared their full support for the work of the platform in a joint statement of support.

The joint statement of support can be read here.

Danish NGO at the forefront
The Danish Institute Against Torture – DIGNITY is leading the Platform in cooperation with the Belarusian human rights organisations, Human Rights Center Viasna and International Committee for Investigation of Torture in Belarus, as well as the international NGO Redress.

The platform will be responsible for the collection, consolidation and storage of evidence of gross human rights violations. The documentation can later serve as a basis for prosecution, either in national, regional or international courts. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allocated EUR 500.000 to DIGNITY through the Neighbourhood Programme to manage the platform, which has already commenced its work.   

"I am extremely proud of the strong Danish participation in the initiative with DIGNITY in a leading role," says Minister for Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod, adding: "The work of the platform will make a significant contribution to the important work of ensuring that perpetrators of gross human rights violations in Belarus can be brought to justice. We cannot and will not accept impunity." 

Rasmus Grue Christensen, Director of DIGNITY, says: "We are honoured that so many governments support this important initiative, which will promote justice for the victims and hopefully contribute to the prosecution of Belarusian perpetrators. It is a unique initiative that puts Denmark on the world’s human rights map." 

Parallel action in the Human Rights Council
As a member of the UN Rights Council, Denmark has in parallel worked hard for the Human Rights Council to launch a UN investigation into human rights violations in Belarus under the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the support of relevant experts. 

A resolution is being promoted, which provides a strong mandate to the OHCHR to collect and analyse evidence of human rights violations and identify those responsible for prosecution. OHCHR is expected to be able to start this work in the latter half of 2021, after which material collected by the IAPB will be handed over to OHCHR. 

"The Platform's work to collect evidence here and now will ensure that important evidence is not lost and may also help prevent new human rights violations from taking place. This is extremely important in view of the coming spring, when the Belarusian people will take to the streets again and reiterate their demands for a democratic future," says Jeppe Kofod.  

Background
The establishment of the International Accountability Platform for Belarus is a follow-up to the recommendations of the report under the so-called Moscow Mechanism launched in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) by 17 countries, including Denmark. 

The report, published on 5 November 2021, unequivocally confirms serious human rights violations and makes a number of concrete recommendations to both the Belarusian authorities and the international community. The report can be read here

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has also confirmed in a recent report long-standing and systemic human rights violations in Belarus and impunity for those responsible. The report can be read here.

More information on the International Accountability Platform for Belarus can be found on the website: www.iapbelarus.org 

For further press contact: 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Office, pressevagten@um.dk