Latvia, as a member of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, is highly concerned about the breach of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus. The authorities of Belarus are putting pressure on religious structures for sympathizing with Belarusian civil society amidst a brutal government crackdown.
On August 31st Belarus authorities denied Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus and a citizen of the Republic of Belarus, re- entry to Belarus without explanation.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. The Belarusian authorities should respect that all Belarusian people must be allowed to exercise their human rights, including the right to freedom to worship. The ban on Archbishop Kondrusiewicz's entering Belarus prevents him from carrying out pastoral ministry and participation in planned church events of the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mogilev.
Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. In addition, refusal to allow Archbishop Kondrusiewicz re-entry to Belarus is against the Law of the Republic of Belarus On the procedure for leaving the Republic of Belarus and entering the Republic of Belarus for citizens of the Republic of Belarus dated September 20, 2009 which states: “The right of citizens to enter into the Republic of Belarus cannot be limited” (article 3).
We call for global advocacy to protect the right of freedom of religion or belief for all and to promote accountability for those who fail to support freedom of religion or belief, as well as to serve as a platform to better coordinate the efforts of governments, parliamentarians, and civil society in advancing this right.
The International Religious Freedom Alliance was established on 5 February 2020 in Washington, D.C. Latvia has been supporting the Alliance as well as a number of other international initiatives that endeavour to foster international religious freedom and oppose efforts to weaken those freedoms based on religion or belief.