ODIHR will not deploy election observation mission to Belarus due to lack of invitation
WARSAW, 15 July 2020 – The Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus that the lack of an invitation to observe the upcoming presidential election has precluded ODIHR from observing the ongoing election process.
“The lack of a timely invitation more than two months after the announcement of the election has prevented ODIHR from observing key aspects of the electoral process,” ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said. “These include areas we have noted in recent observation reports as requiring improvement in Belarus, such as the formation of election commissions and registration of candidates. It is clear from the outcomes of these processes that the authorities have not taken any steps to improve their inclusiveness.”
ODIHR has made every effort since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver on its mandate for election observation, and has carried out observation in several countries since travel restrictions were widely lifted. The lack of a timely invitation in such a challenging situation, the Director underlined, reflects a lack of commitment to co-operate with ODIHR election observers as envisaged by OSCE commitments.
At the same time, Gísladóttir also reiterated her deep concern at reports that prospective candidates had been intimidated and opposition activists arrested.
“The protection of fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression is a precondition for genuine democratic elections,” she said.
The ODIHR Director also urged the authorities to take concrete and immediate steps to protect the exercise of fundamental freedoms in Belarus.