Belarus: ICJ and IBAHRI Denounce Legal Harassment on Political Grounds

Joint Oral Statement

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) deplore the widespread and systematic human rights violations in Belarus. We condemn the escalating pattern of retaliation against lawyers for representing the political opposition and protesters and, upholding the rule of law.

Since 2020, over 100 lawyers have faced harassment and have been forced to flee the country. On 27 July 2023, prominent lawyer Yuliya Yurgilevich and journalist Pavel Mazheika were sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on spurious charges, including against Yurgilevich for  publicizing her disbarment and disseminating information on political prisoners .

We remain concerned at the apparent enforced disappearance of political prisoners, including Maria Kalesnikava and Viktar Babaryka, detained without access to the outside world, including lawyers.

The recent presidential decree from 4 September, restricting Belarus nationals in exile from accessing consular services, is unacceptable.  It jeopardizes the enjoyment of human rights for those exiled and their families including the right to freedom of movement, to work, health, education, and housing

We urge:

  • Belarus to immediately release all arbitrarily detained individuals, including lawyers and other political prisoners, and to ensure that all detained person have access to lawyer, doctors and family and cease their persecution, immediately withdraw the presidential decree on consular services.
  • Host States to provide all necessary assistance to protect the rights of exiled Belarus nationals and their families.


This statement was delivered by:

Francesca Restifo

Senior Human Rights Lawyer and UN Representative

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)


For further information please contact

Francesca Restifo, IBAHRI,

Sandra Epal Ratjen, ICJ,

Attacks on Justice