COPENHAGEN, 16 July 2020 – The leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions expressed concern today that Belarus had failed to extend a timely invitation to the OSCE to observe its upcoming presidential election. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced yesterday that the lack of an invitation has prevented ODIHR from observing the election process.
Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Michael Link (Germany), and Kari Henriksen (Norway), the Chair, Vice-Chair and Rapporteur, respectively, of the OSCE PA’s human rights committee stressed that the failure to extend a timely invitation is not in line with OSCE commitments.
“All OSCE participating States are obliged under the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document to facilitate election observation by other participating States,” Hadjiyianni, Link and Henriksen said today in a joint statement. “The fact that Belarus failed until now to invite the OSCE to observe its 9 August presidential election has effectively prevented observation of key parts of the electoral process, such as the formation of election commissions and registration of candidates. Although the Parliamentary Assembly was not planning to deploy observers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we deeply regret that the lack of an invitation to our partners in ODIHR has prevented them from performing any election observation activities. The people and institutions of Belarus would have benefited from the added transparency brought by OSCE election observation.”
Hadjiyianni, Link and Henriksen also expressed concern over reports that prospective presidential candidates had been intimidated in Belarus and opposition activists arrested, reiterating their statement on 2 June that the authorities in Belarus must do all they can to enable a thorough and open campaign environment.
OSCE PA President George Tsereteli and Secretary General Roberto Montella discussed the upcoming election with Head of the Belarusian OSCE PA Delegation Anderei Savinykh in an informal online meeting on 26 June. The PA leaders informed the Belarusian side that the PA had decided that it would not observe any elections until the autumn, at the earliest, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but made clear to the Belarusian Delegation that an invitation would be appropriate nonetheless, in line with Belarus’s commitments under the Copenhagen Document.
To date, however, the PA has also failed to receive a formal invitation.
In the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document, the signatories affirmed their commitment to invite observers from any other OSCE participating State to observe the course of their national election proceedings and to facilitate similar access for election proceedings held below the national level.
Link to original press release here.