Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif warned of a deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus amid a massive crackdown on civil society that resulted in about 1,300 politically motivated arrests.

She noted that “the climate of repression in Belarus persists with the deterioration of the human rights situation, including gross violations of civil and political rights and the spread of impunity.”

In a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva criticized by Belarus, she added that her office was monitoring a “widespread campaign of repression” against civil society, the media and others.

Al-Nashef said that since the last update of the Commission on Human Rights in March, the number of detainees “for political reasons” has increased from 1085 to 1296, explaining that among them there are opposition candidates, political and human rights activists, trade unionists, journalists and demonstrators, who were often arrested on charges related to “extremist” activities, tax evasion and even “treason”, and noted that over the past two years, at least 370 organizations have suspended their activities to avoid possible criminal charges, in while the authorities are working to disband more than 630 organizations, including most of the country’s human rights organizations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has been studying the situation in Belarus ahead of a disputed 2020 election that saw President Alexander Lukashenko elected to a sixth term.

The commission has previously stated that at least 37,000 Belarusians were arrested between May 2020 and May 2021, and despite the release of many of them, new arrests are still being recorded.

It reported that in July the Supreme Court of Belarus dissolved the country’s independent trade union organization, and all independent media were classified as “extremist formations” and banned.