The presidential elections in Belarus had obvious shortcomings, did not meet the standards of election monitoring processes, and were neither free nor fair. This is stated in the report of OSCE Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur Professor Wolfgang Benedek. The report was presented on 5 November at a closed meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council. The TASS correspondent in Vienna had it at his disposal and published some excerpts.
“As a general conclusion, there is irrefutable evidence that the presidential elections on August 9, 2020 were rigged and that Belarusian security forces committed massive and systematic human rights violations in response to peaceful demonstrations and protests,” the 58-page document says.
“Regarding the issue of ‘election fraud’, the speaker concludes that the presidential elections had obvious shortcomings that did not meet the basic requirements established on the basis of monitoring the previous elections,” the report emphasizes.
The report also notes that mass media and the safety of journalists in Belarus are under massive attack.
“Freedom of the media and the safety of journalists are under massive attack, as are freedom of assembly and association, and the right to liberty and security. Nevertheless, elections and human rights violations are closely linked. Without democratic and structural reforms, the necessary legal reforms cannot be expected to have the desired impact,” the report reads.
In accordance with the mandate and on the basis of the conclusions, the speaker presented recommendations to Belarus, the OSCE and the international community, which can help resolve the dramatic situation associated with the presidential elections and the corresponding massive violations of human rights, the document says. All this was done in a constructive spirit, taking into account the future of Belarus as a European country where human rights are respected, there is democracy and the rule of law, the report says.
Minsk is recommended to ensure the safety of all journalists and refrain from any harassment related to the performance of their duties, seizure and damage of equipment and video materials; facilitate the accreditation of foreign journalists; refrain from interfering with access to the internet, including mobile, and end censorship and blocking of sites, as well as remove restrictions from 70 sites that are currently blocked. “Provide favorable conditions for the work of journalists and the media,” the report stresses.
The Moscow Mechanism on Alleged Human Rights Violations in Belarus was initiated for the second time in the last decade. A mission of experts will be sent to the country to study the human rights situation after the presidential elections. It was first initiated in April 2011. Just like nine years, the 2020 investigation was invoked following gross violations of human rights and abuses against the rule of law prior, within, and after presidential elections.
Recommendations to the Republic of Belarus
A. On the Presidential Elections of 9 August 2020:
1. Cancel the results of the presidential elections of 9 August 2020 due to irregularities at all stages of the process;
2. Organize new genuine presidential elections based on international standards;
3. Invite international observation by OSCE/ODIHR on time, in line with OSCE/ODHIR commitments as well as other international and domestic observers;
4. Make sure that all election commissions are composed of all actors of society and can perform their obligations in full independence;
5. Bring the electoral law in conformity with international standards as recommended by OSCE/ODIHR and the United Nations;
B. On the Situation of Human Rights:
Right to liberty and security
1. Immediately cease all violence, in particular torture and ill-treatment against peaceful protesters and opponents;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners held for political reasons, including all detainees that were arrested in relation to the protests against the presidential elections of 9 August 2020;
3. In particular, release all journalists, media workers and bloggers;
59. Ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court;
Recommendations to OSCE Participating states:
1. Not to recognize the results of the presidential elections in Belarus of 9 August 2020;
2. Request new elections monitored by ODIHR and other international observers based on OSCE standards;
3. Request the implementation of the above recommendations by the government of Belarus;
4. Continue efforts at facilitating a dialogue between all actors in Belarus;
5. Participate in an international investigative mechanism of the human rights violations in the context of the presidential elections;
6. Extend technical assistance to Belarus for preparing new presidential elections and to undertake the suggested legal reforms
Recommendations to the International Community:
1. Refrain from recognition of the results of the presidential elections of 9 August 2020;
2. Request new presidential elections under international monitoring;
3. Establish an independent international body for the in-depth investigation of human rights violations in the context of the presidential elections with the help of forensic experts;
4. Bring perpetrators of torture and inhuman treatment among the Belarusian security forces and their responsible superiors to justice wherever possible.