The United Kingdom is following closely developments in Belarus, in particular as the country prepares for the Presidential election in August, said Nicola Murray, Deputy Head of Delegation, at the OSCE Permanent Council on 2 July.
First Nicola Murray noted that they expressed their concern over “the arrest and detention of over 100 people, including independent journalists, social media actors, human rights defenders and peaceful protestors” in their statement of 21 May.
“To date, over 400 people have been detained or arrested, with many facing administrative penalties, such as fines, and some facing criminal charges. Those detained include a number of journalists and media workers who were attempting to report on public gatherings, as well as social media actors,” the statement reads.
British representative once again called on “to ensure that journalists are able to do their work, to cover and report on public gatherings without fear of being detained.”
On behalf of the UK, she called on the Belarusian authorities to release potential presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka and his son Eduard Babaryka. “We also note with concern the investigation by the Ministry of Internal Affairs into the alleged involvement of another presidential candidate, Valery Tsapkala, in “illegal activities”.”
The official also asked to release members of the opposition and civil society who have been arbitrary arrested and detained. Murray reminded Belarus of the longstanding commitment to invite observers from ODIHR and other organisations to observe the upcoming elections in the country.
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“The United Kingdom reiterates our support for Belarus’ independence and sovereignty. It is a matter for the people of Belarus to determine their future and how they are governed. As a friend of the Belarusian people, we urge the authorities to take the measures necessary to hold a safe, peaceful, free and fair election, including through the participation of independent observers,” the statement concludes.