“Human Rights Defenders For Free Elections” to maintain close contacts with OSCE ODIHR assessment mission
Today, the chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski, Chair of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak and member of Viasna’s Board Uladzimir Labkovich met with representatives of the OSCE ODIHR election monitoring assessment mission – Mr. Vladimir Misev, OSCE/ODIHR Election Adviser, and Ms. Tatyana Bogussevich, OSCE/ODIHR Senior Election Adviser.
During the meeting, the representatives of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" assessed the political situation in the country, the state of the Belarusian civil society and the human rights situation in Belarus. They also described the situation with the electoral law, in particular, whether the current legislation and practice complies with international standards of free and democratic elections.
The meeting participants criticized the negative changes to the Electoral Code of 2013, and expressed concern that if the state does not allocate money to finance the presidential candidates the elections will be low-profile.
In addition, according to the human rights activists, the existing procedure of vote counting is absolutely unacceptable, and unless it is changed, it is difficult to talk about the transparency of the electoral process.
Ales Bialiatski said that the level of repression is quite high, six political prisoners are still in prison, independent journalists are harassed and prosecuted for their professional activities, and the Belarusian authorities openly demonstrate disregard for human rights. Therefore, it is very difficult to say that in this political climate there can be any free and democratic elections.
Aleh Hulak assessed the state of political freedoms in Belarus and stressed that the opposition has no access to the media, while political parties have no opportunity to communicate with the public.
As a result of the meeting, representatives of the OSCE ODIHR Assessment Mission agreed to keep close contacts with the "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" campaign from the outset of the international mission’s work during the presidential elections in Belarus.
On June 16, the representatives of the OSCE ODIHR were on an official visit to Belarus and expressed readiness for close cooperation with the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections", which traditionally carries out independent monitoring at the national level. OSCE observers said that the previous presidential elections in Belarus were short of OSCE commitments and international standards. In response to the criticism, the Belarusian authorities closed the OSCE office in Minsk, which officially ceased its work on 31 March 2011.
"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"