U.N. rights boss decries crackdown in Belarus, says 6,000 detained

FILE PHOTO: High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks during an urgent debate on current racially inspired human rights violations, systematic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful protests at the High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland June 17, 2020. Martial Trezzini/Pool via REUTERS

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday condemned the use of violence by Belarusian authorities to peaceful protests after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in Sunday’s election.

Bachelet said police were reported to have used excessive force, firing rubber bullets, using water cannons and throwing stun grenades.

“Reports suggest that more (than) approximately 6,000 people have been detained in the last three days, including bystanders, as well as minors, suggesting a trend of massive arrests in clear violation of international human rights standards,” she said in a statement.

Even more disturbing are the reports of ill-treatment during and after detention”, she said, calling for the release of all those unlawfully detained and for investigations into abuses.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Gareth Jones