Chairperson of Central Election Commission distorts norms of electoral legislation
According to information of state media, by 14 February the local authorities must determine the places for holding pickets on collecting signatures in support of candidates. Lidziya Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the Central Commission on elections and holding of republican referenda, voiced this information on 1 February at press-conference in Minsk. However, human rights defenders state that such demand contradicts to Article 61 of the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus, where it is stated that ‘…collection of electors’ signatures can be conducted in the form of picketing. No permission is needed for it unless the picketing is held in places that are banned for picketing by the local executive and regulatory authorities.’
That’s why, according to the law and contrary to the demand of the CEC Chairperson, state organs should determine the places that are prohibited for picketing, not the places that are allowed for it.
Moreover, this norm of the Electoral Code is twice repeated by the Central Election Commission, in its Ruling #10 on 21 January 2010 On explaining the use of provisions of Articles 61 and 65 regulating the collection of citizen’s signatures in support of the persons who are proposed for nomination as candidates to the local deputy Soviets of the 26th Convocation, and in the Timing Schedule of organizational measures on preparing and holding the elections.
According to the Timing Schedule, the places that are ‘banned for picketing with the aim of collecting electors’ signatures for nomination of candidates to deputies of the local Soviets’ must be determined by 12 February 2010 inclusive, whereas Lidziya Yarmoshyna calls another date, 14 February.
Human rights defenders believe that such discrepancies between the words of the CEC Chairperson and provisions of the electoral legislation demand a special attention.
’As a result, there can occur artificial limitation of the places where such signatures can be conducted. For instance, an executive committee can determine three places for picketing where the picketing is allowed, which means that it will be prohibited in all other places. Thus, executive committees must follow the legal requirements and determine the places where picket is banned. In all other places it must be allowed,’ emphasizes Valiantsin Stefanovich, lawyer of the Human Rights Center Viasna.
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections