Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed the European Games will have a positive impact on the image of the country and provide a boost to tourism, despite ongoing criticism of the country‘s human rights record.
A recent measure was introduced to allow fans to stay in Belarusian territory without a visa for up to 30 days.
Little construction is required in Minsk before the second edition of the event.
“It will pay its way immediately,” Lukashenko said, according to news agency BelTA.
“Our facilities are ready for the competitions; we are building very little now.
“The rest – hotels, roads, accommodation and other things – had to be built anyway.
“They have given us an incentive.
“We will create good sports infrastructure, accommodation, although we have enough hotels already.
“Look how proud Russians are of the recent FIFA World Cup.
“This is an image of our state, this is a contribution to better health of our nation and professional sport.”
A vote of 19 in favour, six against and 21 abstentions was made, with a request that the rapporteur submit a report on the human rights situation in Belarus to the Council at its 41st Session and to the General Assembly in 2019.
The European Union (EU) “firmly advocated for the abolition of the death penalty and strongly condemned its continuous application in Belarus“, but “welcomed the engagement of the Government of Belarus in the discussion on the possible abolition of the death penalty, and it urged Belarus to join the global moratorium on the death penalty”.
The EU presented the draft resolution to extend the mandate of the special rapporteur.
The report covered the period from April 1 in 2017 to April 30 in 2018, while also providing an overview of the six-year mandate held by Miklós Haraszti, since the special rapporteur was mandated in 2012.
The report described a “purposefully repressive legal framework” which was combined with “cyclical crackdowns on the political opposition, civil society and trade unions”.
It also expressed concerns that “new amendments to media laws threaten further harsh restrictions to freedom of expression online”, while asserting that “two executions were carried out, and four death sentences were handed down, according to the information available” in 2017.
Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education were also included.
The fifth round of the dialogue was claimed to provide an “extensive exchange of views on the situation with human rights both in Belarus and in the European Union, focusing in particular on the freedoms of expression, assembly and association; electoral rights; the death penalty; penitentiary reform; anti-discrimination policy; gender equality; and the fight against violence in the family“.
“Discussions were equally dedicated to the development of Belarus‘ national institutions for protection of human rights, as well as to further implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan,” the European External Action Service stated.
“Furthermore, the participants discussed cooperation in promoting human rights in international fora, including cooperation via the UN mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review.”
A sixth round of the dialogue is expected to take place in 2019.
The report from the special rapporteur can be read here.