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PACE urges use of ‘Magnitsky laws’ and universal jurisdiction to bring human rights abusers to justice in Belarus

People attending pre-election meeting in Belarus, 2020

PACE is urging Council of Europe member States to use universal jurisdiction and “Magnitsky laws” to bring to justice the perpetrators of serious human rights violations in Belarus, including torture, during the recent protests and government crackdown.

Approving a report by Alexandra Louis (France, ALDE), the Assembly said it welcomed the work of activists in Belarus to gather evidence of torture and identify the perpetrators, and welcomed the “International Accountability Platform for Belarus” initiative to bring together such evidence, assess it and make it available as a basis for national prosecutions and targeted sanctions.

The parliamentarians also said that they considered those arrested for organising, taking part in or publicising the protests as “political prisoners”, within the meaning of the Council of Europe’s definition, and urged their immediate release.

The Assembly finally called on the Belarus authorities to engage in dialogue with the opposition as the only way to end the violence and human rights violations, and to hold new democratic elections to resolve the political crisis.