UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Afshan Khan's remarks at the Human Rights Council’s Urgent Debate on Belarus

As delivered

18 September 2020

GENEVA, 18 September 2020 - This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, and the Special Coordinator for the Refuge and Migrant Response in Europe Afshan Khan – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's Human Rights Council’s Urgent Debate on Belarus.

"Madame President,

"UNICEF welcomes the opportunity to bring attention to the impact of the political unrest on the rights of children and adolescents in Belarus.

"UNICEF is concerned with the numerous reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during protests and in places of detention, including against children.

"UNICEF is also concerned with reports of 240 adolescents facing administrative charges for engaging in largely peaceful demonstrations and wishes to recall that as per the Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child has the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and that children’s views must be given due weight.  

"Further, arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child are to be used only as measures of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. Legal guardians must be promptly informed and be allowed to be present throughout judicial and administrative procedures.

"Madame President,

"UNICEF urges the authorities and all parties to fully respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all children, everywhere across the country at all times, in accordance with international human rights law.

"UNICEF continues to monitor the situation closely and stands ready to support all actions that protect and promote the rights of children in Belarus.

"Thank you."

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