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Since 2007 we have Consultative Status with the United Nation's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Belarus Between Local and Presidential Elections
On the 28th of June, at 10.30 am, a debate on the local elections in Belarus with perspectives on the upcoming presidential elections, and on the situation of human rights in Belarus will take place at the Helsinki Foundation in Warsaw.(Zgoda Str. 11).
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On the 25th of April this year, Belarus held local elections. Among over 20.000 representatives of the local councils, only ten are members of democratic opposition parties. The election law amendment has been implemented in a formal way, but it neither led to a fair electoral campaign nor to a transparent vote.
The local elections were considered as a test for the upcoming presidential elections in November 2010 and February 2011, where President Lukashenka waits for his re-election. In this context, the political pressure on the civil society and on the leaders of political opposition has increased dramatically.
Summary of the report:
LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS 2010
Presentation of the report of the Initiative "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"
In cooperation with its partners, the Human Rights Organisation Viasna and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, European Exchange has been supporting the campaign 'HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FOR FREE ELECTIONS' to monitor the local elections in Belarus held between 20 - 25 April 2010. The project has been conducted with financial support from the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MATRA) in Warsaw.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In its "Temporary Monitoring Report on the 2010 Local Elections", the initiative "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" has welcomed the amendments to the electoral code, which were adopted on 4th January in line with the demands of the ODIHR-OSCE and local experts. Of particular importance is the removal of several restrictions on the nomination and registration of candidates. However, the lack of transparency in the assessment of potential candidates' applications continues to enable the election commissions to treat candidates critical of the regime in a discriminatory manner.
In spite of the amendments to the electoral code, the domestic election observers see no substantial progress towards a democratisation of the election process. Similarly to during previous election campaigns, the 2010 local elections in Belarus were overshadowed by serious and systematic violations of democratic electoral standards. The most important amendments to the electoral code were mostly only formally put into practice or even not at all. During the entire election process, from the formation of the election commissions and the nomination of candidates up to the election campaign itself, enormous acts of manipulation were observed which disadvantaged those candidates critical of the regime. For example, local authorities and security services targeted candidates critical of the regime and their supporters with acts of repression. State companies and public institutions were directly involved in supporting the election campaign activities of candidates loyal to the regime. Activists and members of the opposition were put under pressure by their superiors at work or made redundant. State media provided barely any information about the elections and campaigned for candidates loyal to the regime.
There were numerous cases of opposition candidates' election campaign materials and radio appearances being censored. In particular, grave irregularities were found during the early and home voting procedures, and during the vote counting process. In addition, almost all appeals which were submitted before, during and after election day, were rejected by the responsible election commission.
The initiative "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" demands the following amendments to the electoral code:
A. The introduction of legally prescribed criteria for the assessment of candidacies for the regional and local election commissions;
B. The opportunity for representatives of political parties who put forward candidates to be accepted onto the election commissions;
C. The removal of the possibility to ban election campaign events at central locations by the local authorities;
D. The restriction of the early voting process by introducing clear criteria for its application;
E. Restriction of home voting with mobile ballot boxes: the introduction of supervision of the mobile voting process by election observers and candidates' representatives. These should testify to the lawful nature of the home votes with their signatures;
F. The creation of collective vote counting by the members of the election commission and the separate announcement of the results from early voting, home voting and the votes from election day itself;
G. The possibility for domestic election observers and their representatives to be able to carry out unrestricted observation of the vote counting process;
H. The expansion of domestic election observers' activities during all stages of the election campaign.
To find the complete report follow this link:
For more information on the monitoring of the Local Elections 2010 and Parliamentary Elections 2008 see:
European Exchange: http://european-exchange.org/index.php?id=202
Belarusian Helsinki Committee: www.belhelcom.org
Human Rights Center Viasna: http://spring96.org/en/
- HFHR: The Helsinki Founation for Human Rights calls the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus
- HFHR: HFHR letter regarding the arrests and brutal attacks by riot police of peaceful demonstrators in Minsk, Belarus
- HFHR: Letter to the President of the Republic of Belarus regarding the situation of Alexander Kozulin and other prisioners of conscience in Belarus
- HC: Statement regarding situation in Belarus
- HFHR: A Letter from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland to the International Helsinki Federation regarding the situation of the Association of Poles in Belarus