Central Election Commission fails to submit amendments to Electoral Code to OSCE ODIHR representatives
This was announced during a meeting of international experts with the Belarusian human rights activists. The human rights defenders are concerned over the mystery that accompanies the adoption of the bill that will be heard tomorrow is the second reading of the Parliament. As yet, the document is not available to the public.
Representatives of the OSCE ODIHR yesterday visited the Central Election Commission to meet with the Chairman Lidziya Yarmoshyna and Secretary Mikalai Lazavik. Foreign experts arrived in Belarus at the invitation of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
“The text of the bill has not been yet available, although it is known that the document was adopted by the Parliament in the first reading. Moreover, the ODIHR OSCE experts do not possess the text of the bill, either. The CEC chiefs explained that it is not a legislative body, therefore the foreign experts were not provided with the document. Maybe today at a meeting with Belarusian MPs they will have a chance to see the official document, which is set to amend the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus,” said Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich.
The human rights defenders are wondering why the law is not available to the public and general discussion. "There are various actors of the electoral process: political parties, non-governmental organizations that monitor how the elections. So why are we deprived of the opportunity to get acquainted with the bill before it is passed in the Parliament? The Law "On Normative Legal Acts of the Republic of Belarus" states that a bill, after being received by the body that will consider it, should be registered in the National Register, that is, the law must be made public, but we have nothing," says Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Representatives of the OSCE ODIHR also met with non-governmental organizations that monitor elections in the country: the HRC "Viasna" and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, as well as the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
Commenting on the changes to the electoral law, human rights defender Uladzimir Labkovich noted that funds would be virtually the only means of election campaigning. “Moreover, in the parliamentary elections the fund can be established only after the registration of the candidate. That is, in just one month the candidate must organize a fund and conduct a campaign. Elections are already low-profile, now everything is done to make them unnoticed at all,” says Uladzimir Labkovich.
According to Viasna’s human rights defenders, the proposed changes do not reflect the recommendations of the OSCE ODIHR observers on the results of the parliamentary elections in 2012.
"In our view, the new bill does not reflect the key and the most problematic the stages of the electoral process: the vote count, early vote, the formation of election commissions, the rights of observers; all that remained unchanged,” concluded Valiantsin Stefanovich.