Human rights defenders present results of election monitoring
October 12, the resulting press-conference of the campaign “"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"” regarding the presidential elections of October 11 was held in Minsk.
The press-conference was given by Chairman of the Republican human rights public association "Belarusian Helsinki Committee" Aleh Hulak and deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valianstin Stefanovich, who commented on the electoral process in terms of its compliance with the Belarusian legislation and international standards of free and democratic elections.
Human rights activist alianstin Stefanovich stated that the electoral process did not meet a number of key international standards for elections. This was due to the lack of equal access to the media for all candidates, the lack of impartiality of election commissions, use of administrative resources in favor of the incumbent, numerous facts of coercion of voters to participate in early voting, the closure of some election procedures for observers.
"Unfortunately, before the start of the election campaign, the recommendations of the OSCE, which were made as a result of past observations, were not considered by the Belarusian authorities and were not implemented in the national electoral legislation. This, in our opinion, had a negative impact on the elections. It can be said that we did not see anything new in the election process this year. With regard to early voting, we registered facts of coercion, and an active mobilization of the electorate at state enterprises and educational institutions.
The procedure of early voting has always deserved the most severe criticism of international and national observers. This year the authorities announced the record share of early votes – 36%. Our observers managed to register the overstatement of the real turnout during the early voting by the precinct election commissions in the amount of 6.2% for all five days of the early voting.
The early voting raises well deserved doubts in the safety of the ballots and ballot boxes, as far as after 7 p.m. observers cannot visually observe their safety. Thus, the whole procedure of early voting, which is provided by the legislation for exceptional cases, is used here as a mainstream rule.”
As noted by the chair of the Belarusin Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak, the Central Election Commission did not heed the proposals of human rights activists, that's why the impeachment to the election results can be stated once again:
"The most problematic part, which provokes criticism related to the electoral process, is the vote counting. I should remind that at the very beginning, right after the announcement of the elections, we addressed the CEC with the proposals that it should take measures for increasing the trustworthiness of the elections and their transparency. First of all, it concerned the procedure of vote counting. However, the Central Election Commission replied that it was beyond its competence. Nevertheless, I should remind that the CEC has the right to take decisions that would be binding for other commission,” commented Mr. Hulak.
The human rights activist noted that observers of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" didn't register a single case when the counting was conducted in a transparent and accessible way.
"It is the fault solely of the election administration bodies, the Central Election Commission in the first place, that the results, voiced by it cannot be trusted again,” said Aleh Hulak.
In addition, A. Hulak noted that though some progress had been demonstrated in some spheres of the electoral progress, but its fundamentals had remained unchanged for years, being extremely important for the established system of the organization and holding of the elections, and neither the authorities nor the election authorities would conduct them in any other way.
“I would probably make no mistake by saying that for 15 years almost no members of the election commissions and executive committees who have been directly or indirectly involved in the electoral process, have been punished as a result of the complaints that filed by observes. Moreover, a principal assessment to the facts described in these complaints hasn't been given. The system that has been established over these 15 years simply lets people not to work. Some commissions even didn't care to make the number of the issued ballots and voters match in the final protocols, though these are the simplest things. Even these commissions were unable to do it, and what could be done if the vote counting was transparent?”
Let us remind that the monitoring of the elections of President of the Republic of Belarus was conducted by activists of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” within the framework of the campaign
"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"