Belarus’ human rights record raises concerns over 2019 European Games

Sports organisations, NGOs and trade unionists raised concerns in a letter

The inaugural European Games, which  took place in Azerbaijan were dominated by questions about the country’s human-rights record. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

The inaugural European Games, which took place in Azerbaijan were dominated by questions about the country’s human-rights record. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

A coalition of sports organisations, NGOs and trade unionists has raised concerns about the 2019 European Games in Minsk because of Belarus’s human-rights record – and called upon the European Olympic Committees (EOC) to speak out “with immediate effect”.

In a letter to the acting EOC president, Janez Kocijancic (Pat Hickey stepped aside from the role following his arrest in Rio), the Sports and Rights Alliance warned that Belarus failed to uphold basic standards on the right to protest, press freedom or workers’ rights – and reminded him that this was in stark contrast to the Olympic charter, which calls for the respect “for human dignity – and universal fundamental principles”.

The letter also called for independent outside monitors to receive and act on complaints of human-rights abuses, labour standards violations, and incidents of corruption linked to Games – and urged EOC to address their concerns as quickly as possible.

“The governance and responsibilities of international sport are receiving unprecedented global attention, and the international demand for urgent action will persist,” it added.

Second Captains

Sylvia Schenk, of Transparency International Germany, said that the EOCs were failing in their duty by not making a stand “on human rights, media freedom, labour standards, children’s rights, and anti-corruption”.

The inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan last year were dominated by questions about the country’s human-rights record, with the Guardian – along with a number of other media outlets and activists – barred from entering the country to cover the event.

Human rights activists, lawyers and journalists were also harassed, arrested and jailed in the run up to the Games.

“After the human rights debacle that ensued when Azerbaijan hosted the 2015 Baku Games, the European Olympic Committees need to put in place safeguards to ensure the Minsk Games are not a replay of the rights abuses that have characterised so many recent mega-sporting events,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

(Guardian service)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.