Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт

OSCE: decision not to invite its observers to the elections contradicts Belarus' international commitments

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) stated that the decision of the Belarusian authorities not to invite OSCE observers to the elections contradicts Minsk's international obligations and the interests of the people of Belarus. The heads of both institutions expressed "deep regret" and "concern" over the fact that the Belarusian authorities decided not to invite OSCE observers to the country for the parliamentary elections to be held on February 25.

According to ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci, such a step "will prevent the country's citizens and institutions from benefiting from an impartial, transparent, and comprehensive assessment" of the elections.

"This is contrary to the commitments made by Belarus, and goes against both the letter and the spirit of collaboration on which the OSCE is based," he said.

And OSCE PA President Pia Kauma said that "The Belarusian government's decision to shirk its obligation to invite OSCE observers is concerning, and goes against the best interest of the Belarusian people," and called on the Belarusian authorities to be more open.

Recall that on January 8, the Belarusian side notified the OSCE/ODIHR of its intention not to invite observers. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry justified this decision by "the traditional dominance of representatives of Western countries in these OSCE missions", "the imposition by Western countries of unreasonably harsh political and economic sanctions against the Central Executive Committee and parliament among other institutions", as well as "the deterioration of logistical opportunities for departure from Belarus and entry to it due to the fault of the West." Recently it became known that a CSTO mission will go to observe the parliamentary elections in Belarus.

At the beginning of the election campaign, Pavel Sapelka, an expert of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign, noted that both independent national monitoring and international one have always been one of the guarantees of holding free elections:

"When independent observation is banished from the electoral process, confidence in the elections and their results plummets. This trust will not be restored with the help of the assessments by "friends" from the club of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, and even with the help of solitary regime sympathizing politicians with ambiguous reputations from democratic subjects. On the other hand, observation, especially by reputable international actors, for example, the OSCE ODIHR, is designed to improve electoral processes. And this is not at all interesting to the regime, which is in power precisely because of the falsification of election results. Thus, the electoral system as an institution will degrade."

"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"