Canada Condemns Conviction of Belarusian Human Rights Activist

(No. 353 - November 25, 2011 - 11:00 a.m. ET) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today condemned the conviction by Belarus of Ales Byalyatski, a long-time human rights defender and head of the human rights organization Vyasna.

“Canada unequivocally condemns the conviction of Ales Byalyatski and considers this verdict to be politically motivated,” said Baird. “This trial has not met any reasonable standard of due process. The verdict reconfirms our view that the current Belarusian government continues to completely disregard its international commitments to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“Canada yet again urges Belarus to release all political prisoners and drop all charges against them.

“Canada remains a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law and will continue to work with other international partners and organizations to ensure that the people of Belarus can exercise their fundamental rights.”

Mr. Byalyatski was sentenced to serve four and a half years in a high-security penal colony and to have his property confiscated on the charge of tax evasion.

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