The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was also signed by them over sixty years ago, but again they have failed to ratify this agreement. Belarus even signed onto international agreements that would allow people who are being prosecuted for political reasons to seek asylum. However, they’ve failed to live up to these promises.
Belarus has shown itself time and again as one of the most brutal regimes in the world. Last month, Lukashenka signed legislation that would make his own people subject to arrest if they are found guilty of participating in an unsanctioned protest three times. Belarus was also the only country in the world where homosexuality is still illegal.
The United States has recently been pressuring Lukashenka to free his jailed political opponents. Now, it seems as though they are beginning to work on this by placing sanctions on seven high-ranking government officials who have been linked to human rights violations and corruption. While these sanctions are unlikely to be effective by themselves, they could lead to other actions that will create more pressure for change.
These sanctions are not just empty gestures or empty threats either. The United States has already begun to take action against people who have been responsible for violence committed against peaceful protestors in Belarus. Just last year, the U.S. placed sanctions against the head of the Belarusian National Bank, Sergey Rumantsev. He was banned from entering the United States and had his U.S. assets frozen alongside other members in Belarus’ banking sector who were also involved in human rights violations.
The biggest problem with this is that there are only a few individuals within Belarusian government that are responsible for the inhumane treatment of its citizens. The only way to put an end to this is through further sanctions that go after individuals in leadership positions. So far, all sanctions have been aimed at medium-level officials who are not in positions of power to make decisions.
For example, Pavel Borodin was placed under sanctions last year. He is the former head of the Kremlin’s property management department, so he was certainly not in a policy-making position. Belarus also typically responds to sanctions by changing their policies rather than taking individual action against those responsible. While it seems unlikely that Lukashenka would ever be able to change his ways completely, placing more sanctions on high-level officials will put more pressure on him to stop the horrific treatment of his people.
The United States has already shown that it is capable of this type of action and even carried out a bombing raid in Syria earlier this year, which was an unprecedented step for them.