Thank you Mr. Vice-President.
Estonia fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
It is unfortunate that the situation of human rights in Belarus has not improved. Estonia expresses its continued concern relating to the exercise of freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression, resulting in detentions of human rights defenders and journalists. There are no major improvements in the legal or regulatory protection of human rights in Belarus. Arbitrary detention is still a weapon against political opponents, civil society activists, peaceful protesters and independent journalists. In the context of the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus, we strongly urge the Belarusian authorities to ensure a meaningful and competitive political contest, release potential candidates from pre-trial detention and to guarantee full respect of the rule of law.
As the report of the Special Rapporteur highlights, Belarus continues to be the only country in Europe that imposes and executes the death penalty and denies access to information about death penalty cases. Capital punishment violates the inalienable right to life and is incompatible with human dignity. We call on the authorities of Belarus to engage in international dialogue to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards its abolition.
Madame President, Estonia urges Belarus to create better means of protection for women and children against domestic violence by developing and enforcing legislation that criminalizes this act in its Criminal Code.
Finally, Estonia calls on Belarus to recognize and cooperate fully with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus and to establish an independent national human rights institution, which complies fully with the Paris Principles.
Madame Special Rapporteur, how do you rate your chances of getting your mandate approved by Belarus in the future and how does your work differ between having and not having official recognition?