The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights, Equality and Freedom in Belarus

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#Belarus #equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #tolerance

Belarus
Republic of Belarus

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index70th best
CapitalMinsk
Land Area 202 910km21
LocationEurope
Population9.5m2
Life Expectancy71.46yrs (2017)3
GNI$15 629 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesBY, BLR, 1125
Internet Domain.by6
CurrencyRuble (BYR)7
Telephone+3758

Belarus does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. Belarus does better than average when it comes to speed of uptake of HR treaties9, opposing gender inequality10 (but high for Europe), commentary in Human Rights Watch reports11 (but amongst the worst in Europe), its nominal commitment to Human Rights12 (but amongst the lowest in Europe) and in LGBT equality13 (but one of the lowest in Europe). Belarus does not succeed in everything, however. It does worse than average in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice14 and in supporting press freedom15 (the worst in Europe).


1. Belarus's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)16,17
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank16,17
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
67Honduras73.2
68Mauritius73.4
69Philippines75.2
70Belarus75.7
71Israel76.2
72Namibia76.4
73Senegal77.3
74Liechtenstein78.8
75Macedonia78.9
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway16. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine16.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe16, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia16.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

The government continued its crackdown on civil society in 2017. Authorities carried out the broadest wave of arrests of peaceful protesters since 2010. For the first time in 10 years, authorities registered a political opposition movement, but restrictive legislation continues to prevent rights groups from registering and operating freely. No new political party has been able to register since 2000. Belarus remains the only European country to use the death penalty [...]. In July, a vaguely worded law on "protecting children from information harmful for their health and development" entered into force. These provisions may be used to restrict dissemination of neutral or positive information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as "discrediting the institution of the family". [...]

Laws and regulations governing public association remain restrictive, preventing human rights groups or political opposition movements from registering and operating freely. [... Amongst other incidents,] Police in Minsk raided the Human Rights Center "Viasna," detaining 58 people. A Viasna lawyer had to be hospitalized for a concussion he sustained due to police mistreatment. Authorities refused to open an investigation. [...]

The government continued to refuse to cooperate with United Nations [representatives on Human Rights] [even though] in June, Belarus submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee for the first time since 1996.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)11
Pos.Higher is better
Score11
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
59Haiti-2
60Serbia-3
61Papua New Guinea-3
62Belarus-3
63India-3
64Qatar-3
65Tanzania-3
66Ecuador-3
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)12
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties12
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
83Armenia17
84Egypt16
85Togo16
86Belarus16
87Seychelles16
88Tajikistan16
89Ghana16
90Belize16
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)9
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty9
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
25Libya5.61
26Germany5.62
27Austria5.68
28Belarus5.71
29Canada5.73
30Cyprus5.81
31Argentina5.90
32Hungary5.91
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)15
Pos.Lower is better15
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
153Turkey4656
154Swaziland4676
155Azerbaijan4773
156Belarus4835
157Egypt4866
158Pakistan5131
159Kazakhstan5508
160Rwanda5546
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Between March and August, authorities detained at least 100 journalists, mostly while they were reporting on street protests, and sentenced at least 10 up to 15 days' detention on trumped-up charges. Police beat six of them. Authorities also prosecuted 20 journalists, for a total of 35 cases, for cooperating with unregistered foreign media, an increase since last year. All resulted insignificant, sometimes repeated, fines.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)18

2.5. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)19
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims19
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
145Thailand0.89
146Laos0.94
147Papua New Guinea1.03
148Belarus1.09
149Brunei1.09
150Myanmar (Burma)1.10
151Turkmenistan1.12
152Rwanda1.16
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory20. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends21. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life22. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves23.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery24. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity25. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.26. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi19, Eritrea19, Indonesia27) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery28.

In Belarus, we found abuse of civic duties in the practice of Subbotniks, which requires government employees to work weekends and donate their earnings to finance government projects under the intimidation or threat of fines.

"Global Slavery Index" by Walk Free Foundation (2018)29

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Belarus is on the way towards ending gender inequality and has been striving towards this end for quite some time.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)10
Pos.Lower is better10
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
29Estonia0.13
30Poland0.14
31Croatia0.14
32Belarus0.14
33Montenegro0.16
34New Zealand0.16
35Bosnia & Herzegovina0.16
36Macedonia0.16
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
10Kyrgyzstan1918
11Austria1919
12Slovakia1919
13Belarus1919
14Germany1919
15Netherlands1919
16Ukraine1919
17Luxembourg1919
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)14
Pos.Lower is better
%14
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
66Azerbaijan37
67Ukraine38
68S. Africa38
69Belarus38
70Peru38
71Colombia41
72Hungary41
73Dominican Rep.41
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews30,31,32,33. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East34, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews35,36. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"37. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males38.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)13
Pos.Higher is better
Score13
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
100Congo, DR15
101Lesotho15
102Belize15
103Belarus15
104Kyrgyzstan15
105Jordan12
106China12
107Djibouti11
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence39. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws40. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries39. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.