Belarusian Elections Fall Short of International Standards

International observers have found Sunday’s Belarusian parliamentary elections as not being competitive from the start and fell short of international standards.

According to the OSCE/ODIHR findings and conclusions, there were many cases where the Belarusian Electoral was violated.

Reports say a large number of democratic opposition candidates were denied registration on the grounds of minor inaccuracies in their income. Some of them were prohibited to be part of the electoral commissions as well.

Today, Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland says the September 23 parliamentary elections in Belarus fell short of international standards and their conduct cannot be considered free or fair.

A symbol of Belarusian opposition, this flag served as the national flag from 1991 to 1995.

She echoes that the preliminary assessment of the OSCE election observation mission found that the elections were “not competitive from the start.”

The observer mission cited the limitation of choice for voters, the lack of impartiality on the part of the election commission, and the lack of proper counting procedures, she added.

“The United States urges the authorities to take steps to meet Belarus’s international commitments to hold genuinely democratic elections and to foster respect for human rights.” -Ms. Nuland

She stresses that enhanced respect for democracy and human rights in Belarus, including the release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners, remains central to improving bilateral relations with the United States.

In November 2011, United Nations human rights experts spoke out today against newly adopted legislative amendments in Belarus, warning that the changes could severely curtail basic rights such as those of freedom of assembly, association and expression.

The amendments recently adopted by the Eastern European country’s National Assembly could worsen the “current climate of fear and intimidation” in Belarus.

Under the new laws, organizing public assemblies without the prior and explicit consent of the authorities is a criminal offense, and organizers also face reporting liabilities regarding the financial resources used for any assemblies. Public calls for initiating assemblies and disseminating information – including through social media platforms – about assemblies without permission is also banned.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are prohibited from storing funds in banks on foreign territory, and receiving foreign grants or donations could also be a criminal offense in some circumstances.

Reports say the changes to existing laws on public associations, political parties, public gatherings, the criminal code and the election code were done without proper consultation with civil society.

Identified by Freedom House as one of the world’s worst human rights abusers, Belarus is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.