Do Belarusian citizens have the right to boycott elections?
A number of issues related to the upcoming elections was discussed at today's meeting of the management of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the representatives of the assessment mission of the OSCE ODIHR.
CEC Secretary Mikalai Lazavik reminded representatives of the mission that Belarus had acceded to the Convention on standards of democratic elections, rights and freedoms of the CIS member states, and noted:
"Boycott of the elections is prohibited by the Convention. Moreover, this prohibition applies not only to the candidates' speeches, but to all citizens of the country."
However, representatives of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" draw attention to the fact that the Secretary, either deliberately or by neglect, doesn't quote the provisions of Art. 9, para. 8 of the Convention, which concerns the rights of citizens to refuse from election procedures or election actions, boycott or call for a boycott of the elections, as well as the prosecution of individuals who hinder citizens in the implementation of such rights.
"Citizens can participate in the elections and, therefore, exercise their voting rights. They may also voluntarily refused from the implementation of electoral procedures, to call for a boycott of the elections, or to carry out a boycott of the elections. This is fully consistent with the provisions of Article 9 of the Convention," says Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Therefore, human rights activists believe that Article 49 of the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus, which prohibits incitement to refusing from election procedures and to introduces liability for such appeals, is contrary to the Convention on the Standards of Democratic Elections that was ratified by Belarus.
"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"