The UN CERD urges Belarus to respect the rights of Roma population

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination sent an official request to the government of Belarus regarding the measures aimed at guarantees of the rights of Roma minority following the massive arrests of Roma in Mahileu and other cities in May, 2019.

Before, in December 2019, the Committee forwarded a similar request, and the government of Belarus responsed that on May 16 and 17, 2019 in the course of investigative actions 132 Roma were interrogated, 52 of them were brought to administrative liability; no physical force or special weapons were used against them, and the officers’ actions were not racially motivated. Following that, the Prosecutor’s General Office conducted a check and found that police officers had committed violations during administrative procedures.

In the new request, the Committee expressed doubts regarding the impartiality and effectiveness of the investigation given that the commission had been composed of members of two departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The experts of the Committee noted that the investigation was focused on procedural irregularities of the proceeding rather than on the allegations of discrimination against Roma by law enforcement. They also highlighted with concern that as a result of the investigation only disciplinary measures have been adopted against officers and senior officials, but no judicial prosecution has been initiated and no compensation has been provided to the victims. The Committee stated with regret that no information has been provided on measures taken to protect victims from any form of retaliation or reprisals for reporting these cases, and on measures taken to promote dialogue and understanding between Roma and non-Roma communities, and called the government to provide the updated information in the next periodic report on implementation of the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.