Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children expresses serious concern over allegations of detention and violence against children in Belarus
New York, 14 August 2020 – The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG-VAC) Najat Maalla M’jid is deeply concerned over numerous allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of minors in detention in the aftermath of the elections in Belarus on 9 August.
In one particularly shocking case allegedly a 16-year old boy was severely beaten while in detention and suffered brain injuries as a result. The victim was reportedly treated in hospital, in intensive care, where he was in an induced coma, but has now regained consciousness.
Special Representative Maalla M’jid welcomes the release of a large number of detainees on the night of 13 August, but recalls that detention of children should only be used as a measure of last resort, for the shortest period possible and that legal support should be provided to all children in contact with the justice system.
The SRSG VAC recalls that children have the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Any use of force must be necessary and proportionate, with force only exceptionally used on children, taking into account their special protection needs. Those persons who have committed violations against children must be held accountable.
The SRSG VAC calls on the Government of Belarus, one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child thirty years ago, to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect all children without discrimination from all forms of violence, torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.