Press Release: JEF Europe calls on the EU to support a democratic Belarus and improve its response to human rights violations

Brussels/Europe 15.09.2020. Since the unfair presidential elections of 9th August in Belarus, JEF Europe submitted to High Representative Borrell and Commissioner Varhelyi a petition calling for firm and decisive EU action against the Belarusian regime and in support of a democratic transition in the country. 

“The concern is widely shared: our petition calling for strong EU action has collected signatures from more than 30 countries. We hope that the European Parliament will send an equally strong signal this week, by calling for a robust and targeted sanctions’ regime against those responsible for political violence and electoral fraud in Belarus”, says Chris Powers, Member of JEF Europe’s Executive Board responsible for Belarus. 

“We are alarmed by speculation that several Member States intend to exclude Lukashenka from the sanction list,  and urge the Council of the European Union to not bow down to pressure from abroad. No man is above the law” continues Powers. 

JEF Europe supports EU sanctions that would encompass medium- and lower-level officials, entrepreneurs and businesses supporting the regime, as well as security personnel, to make repression costly. These measures should stay in place until there are free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections in the country, monitored by observers of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, followed by a transparent democratic transition process.

Standing in solidarity with all Europeans persecuted by undemocratic governments, JEF Europe also calls on the European Union and its Member States to provide financial, medical and legal assistance to Belarusians who are detained, tortured and expelled from their country. “As members of one European family, we are obliged to aid those who cannot enjoy their basic human rights, everywhere on the continent”, comments Leonie Martin, President of JEF Europe.

The repressions in Belarus are among many other cases of human rights violations in Europe and all over the world. Recalling the European Parliament resolution of March 2019, JEF Europe believes the EU should pursue the development of a sort of “external rule of law mechanism”, allowing for a systematic response to human rights violations that would include both targeted sanctions for the perpetrators and assistance to the victims. The framework should enable these punitive and supportive measures based on a set of predetermined criteria and following qualified majority decisions of the Council. “We believe a solution of this kind would finally guarantee that the EU can act decisively against human rights violations, and finally be a world leader in promoting a rules-based order”, concludes Powers.


Following the contested presidential elections of 9 August, Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime is cracking down on peaceful protesters, journalists and civil society activists, responding with violence to the claims of Belarusian people for freedom, democracy and human rights. The state apparatus uses mass arrests as one of its main instruments of repression, detaining political dissidents and peaceful protesters and subjecting them to harassment and torture. Out of seven Presidium members of the opposition Coordinating Council, to date only one remains free while still staying in the country.

The European Parliament plenary’s discussion can be followed Tuesday, September 15, between 9.15 – 10.30am CEST; the results of the vote on the resolution are expected to be  announced Thursday, September 17 4.30pm CEST. The plenary session can be watched here

11.08.2020 Press Release: JEF Europe on the Belarusian Presidential Elections 

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000  members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

Since 2006, JEF Europe has organised an annual “Free Belarus” action to draw attention across Europe to the authoritarian regime of Aleksander Lukashenko, commonly referred to as Europe’s last dictator. There has been democratic backsliding across the continent since then, and so JEF’s Free Belarus action broadened into the campaign ‘Democracy under Pressure’ in which JEF Europe calls out abuses of human rights and the rule of law.

Contact information

Chris Powers

Spokesperson for Belarus

Young European Federalists

Rue d’Arlon 53

1040 Brussels