ODIHR issues recommendations to improve Belarusian election process in its final report

WARSAW, 7 June 2006 - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, has issued more than 50 recommendations needed in order for Belarus to bring its elections into line with its OSCE commitments.

The recommendations are part of the ODIHR's final report on the 19 March Belarusian presidential election. The report follows a preliminary statement on 20 March, which concluded that the Belarusian election was severely flawed due to arbitrary use of state power and restrictions on basic rights.

The recommendations cover the legal framework, voting regulations, candidate registration, voter registration, campaign and campaign finance, media, complaints and appeals, voting counting and tabulation of election results and election observation.

The report stresses that a commensurate level of political will is needed for the implementation of the recommendations.

"This would require an unequivocal commitment to political pluralism, including respect for fundamental civil and political rights of individuals, such as freedom of expression, association and assembly, in order to fully respect paragraph 6 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document," says the report.

It concludes that the conduct of the recent presidential election in Belarus failed to meet OSCE Commitments for democratic elections. In particular, paragraphs 5.4, 7.3, 7.4, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, 10.1, and 10.3 of the 1990 Copenhagen Document were not respected, fully or in part.

Those commitments regard:
- a clear separation between the State and political parties;
- guaranteed universal and equal suffrage to adult citizens;
- ensuring that votes are cast by secret ballot, counted and reported honestly;
- respect for the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political parties and provide them with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and by the authorities;
- ensuring that law and public policy work to permit political campaigning to be conducted in a fair and free atmosphere;
- unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis for all those wishing to participate in the electoral process;
- ensuring that individuals are permitted to exercise the right to association

The OSCE/ODIHR continues to stand ready to support efforts of the Republic of Belarus to conduct elections in line with OSCE commitments and other international standards.