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U.N. human rights chief says reports of Belarus violence are alarming

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The United Nations human rights chief said on Monday her office was receiving “alarming reports” of the ongoing violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Belarus.

“Reports continue to indicate unnecessary or excessive use of force by law enforcement officials,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told a council meeting in Geneva where an urgent debate on Belarus is planned.

She said there had been “limited evidence” of any steps by Belarus authorities to address reports of human rights violations

Belarus policemen detain a young lady protesting against arrest of the opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova during women’s peaceful solidarity action in Minsk, Belarus. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

The Human Rights Council agreed on Monday to hold an urgent debate on the human rights situation in Belarus, following a request from Germany which described a “steep deterioration” of the situation there since a disputed election last month.

The Council’s President Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger said 25 members of the council voted in favour and two against, with 20 abstentions, meaning the motion was adopted.

Belarussian ambassador Yury Ambrazevich objected to the motion, submitted on behalf of the European Union, which he described as “part of a broad political campaign organised by the European Union in order to support political forces in Belarus who lost the election”.

“…the EU is creating the conditions for preserving this political standoff in the society of Belarus,” he added.

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