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Commemoration of “disappearances” in Belarus

21 September 2015

On 16 September, four enforced disappearances which took place in Belarus in 1999 and 2000 were commemorated in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. This annual event is organized by the Four Trees initiative. NHC Director Harry Hummel spoke at the event about the efforts by the Civic Solidarity Platform NGO-coalition to get more attention from the OSCE for enforced disappearances. He also called for more intensive use by human rights activists of the universal jurisdiction provision in the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

This provision in the Convention requires each state party, whenever a person suspected of carrying out enforced disappearances anywhere in the world is found in its territory, to initiate prosecution. This provision, and a similar provision in the UN Convention against Torture, is heavily under-utilized at the moment, he said. It should be applied in cases of political or law enforcement officers travelling from Belarus to any country that has ratified the Convention.

The Four Trees initiative was started by Amnesty International, trade union federation FNV and We Remember, a group founded by relatives of the disappeared Belarussians. Valeriya Krasovskaya, daughter of Anatoly Krasovsky, one of the “disappeared” persons, spoke at the 16 September event. Wim Dekkers of FNV was talking about his experiences (in Dutch) in the cooperation with the Belarussian independent trade unions.