The United Nations has voiced alarm over a deterioration in the plight of several political prisoners in Belarus ahead of a presidential election in October.
On June 11, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, also reiterated calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those imprisoned for exercising their civil and political rights.
"In this election year, the authorities have both kept critical-minded political personalities in prison and severely hardened their situation, instead of giving a reassuring signal to society on creating an environment for free and fair elections," Haraszti said in a statement.
Haraszti also mentioned the "massive reprisals during the last presidential elections of December 2010," and said the current situation was "disheartening."
He said, "I urge the Belarus authorities not only to release, but also to fully rehabilitate political opponents who have been imprisoned."
Following authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection in December 2010, seven of the nine presidential candidates were arrested and incarcerated along with hundreds who protested against the nontransparent voting procedure.
Belarus has often been referred to as "the last dictatorship in Europe."