On the evening of 21 December, the U.S. Senate passed the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020. Its prime sponsor Congressman Chris Smith said the law will put pressure on Europe’s last dictatorship to respect the sovereignty of its own citizens.
The bill expands the U.S. president’s authority to impose sanctions against Belarus in connection with the disputed 2020 presidential election and subsequent government crackdown. In an interview with the Voice of America, Christopher Smith, who authored and reauthorized his previous legislation enacted in 2004, 2006 and 2011, explained why he sought the adoption of the act.
[Unfortunately, BelarusFeed failed to obtain an original version of the interview, so we had to translate it from a Russian voiceover to English, so there may be some inaccuracies.]
“After my bill is signed by the president, it will reauthorize the law that I drafted in 2004 in a new way. This version of the law goes much further, it really empowers the president to impose sanctions on these people. In the same way, as the European Union imposed sanctions on 29 people. Thus, they will be held accountable for their cruelty, for not allowing true democracy, free and fair elections.
This is perhaps the most important law I have ever written. It gives the Presidential Administration additional tools to impose sanctions. The next administration will be able to take the baton in our fight for freedom and democracy in Belarus. I believe that the international criminal court should consider and investigate all this very seriously.
Crimes against humanity are committed in Belarus, and people who commit them, including police officers, should be brought to justice. We see the same things happening in Nigeria, where people are being killed, I have been hearing that a lot lately. And the same thing is happening in Belarus right before our eyes. People are being severely beaten, and even killed. All this must stop immediately.
And they must understand: we will not stop until they are held accountable. Just as former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison in Sierra Leone and imprisoned, so should Lukashenko and his entourage. We will not stop until they are sent to jail.”
The Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020 is sent for signature to President Donald Trump. Having become law, the Belarus Democracy Act will allow, among other things, to declare that the U.S. doesn’t recognise the results of the rigged presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August 2020, and will not allow Lukashenko to be recognised as the legally elected leader of Belarus.