VILNIUS – Ministers from Lithuania and ten other EU member states have called on the European Commission and Josep Borrell, the bloc's foreign policy chief, to take action to protect the rights of juvenile political prisoners in Belarus and to seek their release, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
"Lukashenko's regime does not shy away from treating minors as a tool to pressure their parents who are being threatened with losing custody over their children for taking part in the ongoing protests," they said in a joint letter that was initiated by Lithuania.
"Denying their rights to children means denying the future for Belarus".
The EU ministers noted that the number of political prisoners in Belarus has reached a record high of over 400, including seven people aged under 18 years.
"Every year, June 1 marks the International Day for Protection of Children. Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and inclusive environment. Regretfully, this is not the case in Belarus," according to the letter signed by ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia.
It was signed on behalf of Lithuania by Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Social Security and Labor Minister Monika Navickiene.