Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Human rights activists meet with OSCE ODIHR Director Michael Georg Link

Michael Georg Link. Photo:
Michael Georg Link. Photo:

Representatives of the political opposition and the campaign “Human Rights Defenders For Free Elections” have met today with Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), to discuss the overall situation in Belarus following the October 2015 presidential election.

The meeting was attended by one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, Mikalai Statkevich, leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka and deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich. OSCE ODIHR was also represented by head of the Director's Office Jean P. Froehly and Election Adviser Vladimir Misev.

I stressed that the authorities have made no systemic changes aimed at improving the human rights situation, while some recent trends are evidence of its deterioration. In particular, I noted the recent cases of administrative cases against journalists working with foreign media,” said Valiantsin Stefanovich.

Viasna deputy chairman gave Mr. Link a copy “Analytical Review of the Human Rights Situation in Belarus in 2015”, which was prepared by the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. The human rights activist also briefed the ODIHR delegation on the latest document adopted by a number of Belarusian human rights organizations a few days ago, which outlined the concerted position of the Belarusian human rights defenders in shaping the strategy of international partners with Belarus and their expectations of this interaction.

The other part of the conversation was devoted directly to the recent presidential election, including the OSCE ODIHR final report, which Mr. Link presented within the framework of his visit for Belarusian officials and the Central Election Commission.

Valiantsin Stefanovich said that “for us, it is essential to see the implementation of the recommendations that were made by the OSCE ODIHR on the basis of observation, with many of them were having been made a long time ago, but remaining relevant up to date. They reflect systemic problems in the electoral legislation. First of all, the vote count and its transparency, the formation of election commissions, early voting and the rights of observers.”

I noted that many changes can be made even without amending the Electoral Code. Of course, it all depends on the political will of the authorities,” said he.

The human rights activist stressed that much of what “Human Rights Defenders For Free Elections” spoke and wrote in their reports, including the final one, has found its assessment in the report prepared by the OSCE ODIHR mission.