In Belarus citizens are still unable to choose their government through elections. In a system bereft of checks and balances, authorities committed abuses, the new annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2016 by the U.S. Department of State says.
The document is signed by the new Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.
“Authorities at all levels operated with impunity and failed to take steps to prosecute or punish officials in the government or security forces who committed human rights abuses”, the report’s executive summary reads.
It adds that in 2016 political rights of former political prisoners remained largely restricted while the government failed to account for longstanding cases of politically motivated disappearances.
Security forces tended to abuse human rights; suspects were reportedly mistreated during investigations and in prisons. Prison conditions remained poor, according to the report.
The government restricted civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion. Authorities refused to allow registeration of many human rights groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and political parties, and then threatened them with criminal prosecution for operating without registration.
The U.S. Department of State report also points out to violence and discrimination against women, children; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; disabled citizens; some ethnic minorities; persons with HIV/AIDS; and those who sought to use the Belarusian language.