Belarus: Public Opinion about Human Rights and Advocacy
From November 2015 to May 2016, Freedom House commissioned a sociological study with both qualitative and quantitative components regarding public opinion towards human rights and human rights advocacy in Belarus. The results, while mixed in some regards, generally present the picture of a society that is unaware of the work of human rights organizations and with only a cursory knowledge of what human rights are and why they are important.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they did not know where to turn if they find themselves in a situation where their rights have been violated. Indeed, only 14.5% of respondents were actively aware of the human rights defenders community in Belarus. Of those surveyed who had faced human rights violations, nearly half did nothing to address the problem, mainly out of lack of belief that pursuing further action would lead to a positive resolution.
Though human rights were not identified as a pressing issue for society by most citizens, respondents were nearly unanimous in expressing the belief that human rights are inherent from birth. However, their understanding of what those rights are, and what institutions are responsible for monitoring and assuring them, is much more muddled. Less than a third of respondents reported a view that international law and statutes provide a source of legal authority on human rights. Thus, the prevailing opinion in the country appears to be that the state is responsible for setting forth and observing human rights, but cannot necessarily guarantee them to all citizens, nor can it provide adequate redress in cases where those rights are violated.
The report was produced with funding from the European Commission.