On September 22, Belarusian human rights defenders arranged a side event at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw to report on the results of parliamentary elections held in the country on September 11.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, says despite the admission of a token oppositionist there was no real difference between last Sunday’s parliamentary elections and all the previous ones carried out in Belarus.
The campaign Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections summed up yesterday the results of monitoring the elections of deputies of the House of Representatives of the 6th convocation. At a press conference in Minsk, the campaign coordinators Aleh Hulak (Belarusian Helsinki Committee) and Uladzimir Labkovich (Human Rights Center "Viasna") presented their assessment of the parliamentary election campaign.
The 11 September parliamentary elections were efficiently organized and there were visible efforts to address some long-standing issues, but a number of systemic shortcomings remain, the international observers of the OSCE ODIHR mission concluded in a preliminary statement released today.
The elections did not meet a number of key international standards for democratic and free elections, as well as the country’s electoral legislation. First of all, the findings are due to the lack of equal access to state media for all candidates, lack of impartiality of election commissions, facts of abuse of administrative resources in favor of the pro-government candidates, numerous facts of forcing voters to participate in early voting, non-transparency of some election procedures for observers.
Year after year, state-owned enterprises and institutions have helped provided human resources to form the election commissions, ‘cooperative’ observers and loyal candidates. The tradition rests upon the country’s legislation, which defines a company’s staff (‘labor collective’) as a key actor of the electoral process, a fact opposed by many independent experts as an anachronism of the Soviet past.