Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Analytical weekly report on results of observation: July 6-11

Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Observation of the presidential elections of the Republic of Belarus is carried out by activists of Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" in the framework of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections".

July 1, the Central Commission for Elections and National Referenda (CEC) held the first sitting after the appointment of the presidential elections. At this sitting it considered the issues of preparation and holding of elections and approved the schedule of the arrangements for the preparation and holding of the presidential elections.

In particular, the CEC approved the composition of the Supervisory Board for the supervision of Mass Media (Supervisory Board) and its regulations. It includes members of the Belarusian Union of Journalists, most of whom are also members of the leading pro-government media, and a representative of the Ministry of Information. The Supervisory Board did not include representatives of independent media and the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

For the first time the Central Election Commission considered the issue of providing opportunities to vote for persons with visual impairments. It was decided to equip polling stations with magnifying glasses, information materials written in Braille font, and stencils that allow blind people to independently determine for whom to vote. (Earlier, at the request of a visually impaired voter, the mark opposite the name of the candidate whom the voter wanted to cast his/her vote, was put by a member of the election commission). The present decision eliminates the discriminatory practices against people with visual impairments, and contributes to the establishment of equal opportunities for members of the electoral process.

It is worth noting that the CEC recommended that local authorities to take action for timely informing the citizens, the contestants and observers on the preparation and holding of presidential elections. This year, the appropriate banners must be placed at the websites of the local authorities. As noted by the CEC secretary Mikalai Lazavik, formerly the sections of sites dedicated to the elections were "hidden", as a result of which there were difficulties in finding relevant information. This was repeatedly reported by observers of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections".

CEC Chairperson L. Yarmoshyna explained the legal consequences of deprivation of observers of accreditation. According to her, in violation of the legislation on elections, the observer loses accreditation until after the election and can not be re-accredited as an observer in the same election commission.

The campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" believes that such position can in no way correspond to the norms of the Electoral Code (EC). Withdrawal of accreditation does not mean the impossibility of re-accreditation of the observer in other ways. Part 7 of Art. 13 of the Electoral Code provides: "Observers are accredited on presentation of a document on the direction of the observer, which is determined by the Central Commission, and the passport of the citizen of the Republic of Belarus". In accordance with Art. 13, part 9, "the Commission, where the observer is accredited, has the right to deprive him of his accreditation in the case of violation of the laws of the Republic of Belarus on elections, referendums, and revocation of a deputy". The literal interpretation of these rules means that the observer loses only the already obtained accreditation for a specific direction, but there is nothing in the law saying he can be deprived of the right to observe in the same commission for the whole duration of the elections. He can be accredited again – for instance, having received a direction from another entity.

According to experts of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections", the legal interpretation of deprivation of observer of accreditation, announced by Chair of the Central Committee, creates a basis for undue restriction of opportunities for observation and can be freely used by election commissions to eliminate unwanted observers from polling stations or commission sittings.

"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"

Please, see also our first report.