EDF is deeply alarmed at the continued incommunicado detention of prominent Belarusian human rights defenders Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky, and calls for their immediate release and an end to intimidation of civil society representatives in Belarus.
The European Disability Forum considers the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as one of the most highly reputable European human rights organisations, and its leader Sergey Drozdovsky – a leader and a visionary whose personal integrity and commitment to ensuring a better life for persons with disabilities cannot be called into question. Mr Drozdovsky is an invited keynote speaker at the EDF Board meeting on the 8th of March and it will be an honour for EDF to welcome him to address the EDF Board on the situation of rights of persons with disabilities in Belarus.
We live in the times when persons with disabilities in all of Europe, including Belarus, continue to be disproportionately hit by poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and health inequalities. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted and exacerbated these inequalities. In this climate, close partnership with organisations led by persons with disabilities is particularly important to mitigate the challenges and ensure respect of human rights of persons with disabilities.
EDF is deeply concerned that the exact opposite is ongoing today in Belarus, where its leading disability activists, Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, have been intimidated, detained and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in the hands of state authorities on the basis of unfounded and arbitrary accusations.
The Belarusian civil society has declared Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky political prisoners and demanded their immediate release. EDF fully supports these demands and calls for an end to all forms of intimidation and persecution of the Belarusian disability community.
- Recalling the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by the Republic of Belarus in 2016 and the upcoming initial review of Belarus by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,
- Considering the peaceful and rights-based nature of the activities of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and their unique value for all Belarusians with disabilities whom the Office has served since its establishment ten years ago,
- Underlining the International Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities adopted by the UN Human Rights Special Procedures in 2020, whereby persons with disabilities are entitled, inter alia, to all substantive and procedural safeguards and reasonable accommodations to guarantee due process,
- The immediate and unconditional release of Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky, and the end to arbitrary interventions in the lawful activities of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- Full respect of personal dignity and procedural rights of Sergey Drozdovsky and Oleg Grablevsky, including access to the lawyer, and provision of reasonable accommodation and support required by Sergey Drozdovsky on the account of his disability.
Belarus Disability Facebook page
Background / The Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (www.disright.org) is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is a leading Belarusian organisation that provides information, advice and support to Belarusians with disabilities on their human rights and freedoms. It has been subjected to severe state repressions since 21 January 2021 when its premises were raided by the Department of Financial Investigations and its equipment – confiscated. The persecution escalated on 2 February when its director Sergey Drozdovsky and lawyer Oleg Grablevsky were interrogated at the Department of Financial Investigations with grave violations of their procedural rights, and subsequently detained. As of 8 February, both activists were being held incommunicado: Oleg Grablevsky in the detention centre Okrestina in Minsk, and Sergey Drozdovsky, who is a person with a disability, under house arrest.