U.S. Senate Passes Belarus Democracy, Human Rights And Sovereignty Act Of 2020

The U.S. Senate has passed the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020. The bill expands the U.S. president’s authority to impose sanctions related to Belarus in connection with the disputed 2020 presidential election and subsequent government crackdown.

The bill was presented by Congressman Christopher Smith, one of the authors of the Belarus Democracy Acts 2004, 2006 and 2011.

Photo: Reuters

“The President may impose visa-blocking sanctions on any alien who is a member of the Central Election Commission of Belarus or assisted in the manipulation of the August 9, 2020, presidential election, is a government official responsible for the crackdown on independent media,  is an official of the Union State (an international organization consisting of Belarus and Russia), or is a Russian individual who has significantly participated in the crackdown on the press or human rights abuses related to political repression in Belarus,” reads the bill.

The bill also expands authorized assistance related to Belarus to include assistance to:

  • counter internet censorship and surveillance technology;
  • support the work of women advocating for freedom and human rights;
  • support political refugees fleeing the crackdown in Belarus.

It is the policy of the United States:

  • to recognize the Coordination Council as a legitimate institution to participate in a dialogue on a peaceful transition of power;
  • to support calls for new presidential and parliamentary elections, conducted in a manner that is free and fair according to OSCE standards and under the supervision of OSCE observers and independent domestic observers;
  • to continue to call for the immediate release without preconditions of all political prisoners in Belarus,
  • to continue to support the aspirations of the people of Belarus for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law;
  • not to recognize any incorporation of Belarus into a Union State with Russia;
  • to support other independent media providing objective information to the Belarusian people.

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate in identical form, now it should be signed by the U.S. president to become law.