[JURIST Europe] The European Union (EU) [official website] is voicing reservations about human rights in Belarus [government website] in the wake of a growing number of reports of abuses there. At the European Parliament [official website] in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Austrian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Hans Winkler [official profile] commented that next month's elections in the country are unlikely to bring "sweeping change" and said that Austria, as current president of the EU [official website], was concerned. Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka [official website; BBC profile] is running for a third term in the upcoming March 19 elections and has faced significant criticism for attempting to silence opposition [JURIST report].
Belarus recently amended its criminal code [JURIST report] to severely restrict political dissent and protest. EU foreign ministers have promised to impose visa restrictions and economic sanctions [MosNews report] in the event that the elections are discovered to be rigged. Radio Free Europe has local coverage.
Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.