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UN Human Rights Chief Wants Access To Belarus

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

The UN's top human rights official has called on Belarus to release all political prisoners immediately and to allow a UN rights mission to visit the country.

Navi Pillay, the head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), made that call in a preliminary oral report on the situation in Belarus.

The report was requested by the UN Human Rights Council, which in June condemned the Belarusian government's crackdown on the opposition.

Pillay told the Human Rights Council that "the human rights situation significantly deteriorated after the December 19, 2010 presidential election."

Pillay said that "Particular concerns relate to rights to freedoms of association, assembly, conscience, speech, and right to a fair trial."

She mentioned "serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment in custody" and "impunity of perpetrators" among the violations of individual rights.

Pillay called on the Belarusian authorities to accept an OHCHR mission "in the near future" and "immediately und unconditionally release all political opponents, activists and journalists who were not involved in any violence."

compiled from agency reports