The international public concerned by persecution of defenders of environment in Belarus

9. 3. 2020 - GENEVA/MINSK
Brest citizens peacefully protesting

The Compliance Committee of international Aarhus Convention (1) is gravely concerned by the new case of persecution of citizens of Belarus for defending their environment. The Progress Report published today refers to detentions and arrests of the people opposing the construction of Chinese accumulator plant in Brest (2). The country is being criticized and internationally investigated since 2012 when the government started to persecute the citizens protesting against the construction of the nuclear power plant in Astravyets (3).

The Aarhus Compliance Committee expresses serious concern and notes that the situation in Brest "demonstrates that persons seeking to exercise their rights under the Convention in the Party concerned remain at risk of penalization, persecution or harassment for doing so. Based on the information before it, there is no indication to the Committee that the situation is improving in this respect. The Committee considers this to be gravely concerning."

Aarhus Convention Progress Report on Belarus (March 2020)

The Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention confirmed in 2017 that complaints of Belarusian citizens are justified, and the country was truly persecuting its citizens defending their right to live in a healthy environment. Belarus was given the following requirements:

  1. Take the necessary measures to ensure that the public exercising their environmental rights is not subjected to harassment, prosecution and punishment;
  2. Disseminate this information among police officers, the State Security Committee and other bodies, so that they also take appropriate measures to prevent the prosecution of activists;
  3. Train police officers, the KGB, and the judiciary so that, while exercising their powers, they do not prevent the public from realizing its right to participate in the decision-making process.

As the situation in Brest reveals, the government of Belarus not only did not comply with the recommendations prescribed in 2017, but also continues the practice of persecuting citizens, and does not take any steps to prevent serious conflicts over environmental cases. 


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