Adrian Severin is eloquent and at the same time - unlike many of his colleagues – able to hear the questions and give short, precise answers. He seems to be a passionate truth-seeker; this in the past caused heavy criticism of his reports both by the Belarusian authorities and the opposition. From his point of view, this fact testifies the impartiality of his work, and simply adds to his enthusiasm.
- Mr. Severin, you have been dealing with
- One can’t get tired if he/she cares about human rights and political freedoms. And I sympathise with
- Is there still reason for sympathy?
- I can’t say that last year brought about any dramatic change, by all means. In the course of last months
- Could you say you understand the Belarusians?
- I would still say I sympathise with them. To use the word understand could be misleading as it implies the acceptance of the situation in the country, in particular with human rights. Many Belarusians don’t care, don’t actively defend their rights.
But I can say I am well-informed and understand a lot of what’s going on. Probably that’s why I am not tired and I am not going to give up, although there are plenty of reasons to get frustrated.
First of all, I have hoped to establish a dialogue with the Belarusian authorities to improve human rights record of the country. But it is still not the case. I also have the expectancy that international community will mobilise its assets, will unify its voice to determine a positive change; and I still hope that Belarusian neighbours will speak in one voice for a democratic change in the country. I also don’t lose a hope that Belarusian democratic forces will stay united and work effectively. The frustration comes as many of these hopes can’t turn into reality.
- The Belarusian authorities are not eager to cooperate. As an appointed Rappotreur you have never been granted a visa to come to
- It is not only the data provided by the opposition, civil society and state. There are third sources like international NGOs. Moreover, I always check, double-check and cross-check, trying to analyse facts and context.
Eventually, was the situation perfect, the Belarusian authorities would talk to me to prove me wrong. The reactions to my report during the discussion at the UN Council of Human Rights on June 12 in
- What is the fate of your reports?
- As my mandate has been prolonged every year since 2004 that shows that the reports were accepted by the UN Commission, which is now UN Council for Human Rights. There is no clear procedure to adopt it, presentation of a report ends with a debate. And the follow-up is extremely modest, the international community is not mobilised. It is probably
I should also warn that cancellation of the position of a Rapporteur on
- The Belarusian authorities would like to benefit fully from economical cooperation with
- Of course! But with the only reservation - human rights are not an internal but international matter as they are the question of sovereignty of an individual, not that of a state. Under the pretext of sovereignty the
And I hope that eventually people of
Adrian Severin has been appointed a Special Rapporteur on
He was born in 1954,
Interview conducted by Maryna Rakhlei