Statement by UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Ms. Afshan Khan

GENEVA, 14 August 2020 –UNICEF stands ready to support all actions that protect and promote the rights and well-being of Belarus’ children.

The release of numerous individuals, including minors, from detention is an important first step. Serious concerns remain over reports of excessive force used by police against protestors, in many cases children. The lack of information on the numbers of children detained and released is also worrisome.

UNICEF stresses the critical importance of respecting children’s rights. As defined in article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child should be in conformity with the law and used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. Legal guardians must be quickly informed and present in all interactions involving law enforcement.

Children have witnessed, and in far too many cases, directly suffered, from the political violence in the country. They require immediate medical, psychological and legal support.