Belarus has drawn up the National human rights plan. The document includes 100 steps to expand human freedom, as well as protect people in Belarus from discrimination on any ground.
In the course the year Belarusian officials looked into dozens of proposals on human rights improvement from international organizations, including UN, local human rights defenders and NGOs. Those proposals formed the basis of the plan. Similar documents exist in about 40 countries.
The action plan is drafted til 2019. However, until then, Belarus does not assume any specific obligations to the UN and other interested parties. The authorities have agreed to “consider the feasibility of”, “to work on”, “to improve the mechanisms” and “to study international experience” for each of the plan’s points.
The work on the plan will not lead to any revolution like the abolishment of death penalty. Belarus will only hold events to study the international experience and public opinion on the issue.
But the county is ready to be more active in less sensitive issues, like the rights of the disabled people. For example, on October 3 the Belarusian parliament ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. The document will enter into force one month after the instruments of ratification are handed over to the UN Secretary General.
Another important outcome of the plan’s implementation may be the establishment of the National human rights institution. If the government approves its creation, an ombudsman to control the observation of human rights will appear in Belarus.
It is expected that upon the plan’s implementation government agencies will become more transparent. Public persons and organizations will be able to take part in the development and discussion of new laws and other legal acts.
The government is ready to take on the obligation to help former prisoners adapt to life after release from jail, and to give juvenile offenders an opportunity to get secondary education even behind the bars.
Some changes are expected in the judicial system. In particular, administrative proceeding may be introduced to solve disputes between citizens and government agencies and officials.
Probably the most important change may happen in the social sphere – an obligatory paternity leave. The Ministry of Labor has already tried to raise the issue with a reference to the experince of Sweden, where 75% of fathers spend several months in childcare leave.
However, in case of Belarus, where the childcare allowance is based on the average wage in the country, these are predominantly women to stay with the newborns because women earn about 15% less than men.