An independent report initiated by Estonia and OSCE member countries has shown there was falsification of elections and the widespread violation of the human rights of peaceful protesters in Belarus.
On Thursday (November 5) an independent report made under the Moscow Mechanism was presented at the Permanent Council of the OSCE was presented.
The report, presented by Rapporteur Wolfgang Benedek, a professor of international law, is based on extensive documentation, including reports, testimonials by victims and eyewitnesses, official information and reports by the authorities.
The statement recognises human rights protectors, journalists and members of the civil society of Belarus who have demonstrated remarkable bravery and strength in notifying the public about what is happening in Belarus.
Estonia is among the 17 OSCE participating countries who proposed the creation of an expert mission to investigate human rights violations and election fraud in Belarus.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said the Belarusian authorities cannot ignore such substantial proof. "Our position is clear – the only solution is free elections," Reinsalu said.
In a joint statement made in Vienna, Estonia and other founding states of the expert mission highlighted the evidence proving that the presidential elections were not transparent, free and fair. According to the report, the elections in Belarus had clear shortcomings and the basic requirements established based on previous election monitoring were not met.
The report also proves that the authorities of Belarus have used excess violence, and confirms their involvement in torture, mistreatment and enforced disappearances. It also draws attention to continued attacks on the freedom of the press and the intimidation of women activists with the threat of removal of their children.
Among the 72 recommendations of the report, the joint statement highlights the call on the authorities of Belarus to cancel the results of the presidential elections of August 9, bring the electoral law into conformity with international standards, immediately cease all violence, release political prisoners, ensure the safety of journalists and refrain from limiting internet access.
"The first step towards progress must be for the Belarusian authorities to cease their campaign of violence against peaceful protestors, release all those unjustly imprisoned and hold perpetrators to account," the statement says. The states renewed their call on Belarus to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue with society.
The states also said they remained deeply disappointed by the refusal by the Belarusian authorities to engage with the Rapporteur and the Moscow Mechanism. "We urge the Belarusian authorities to reconsider their approach, and cooperate," the statement said.
The states who invoked the Moscow Mechanism to launch an independent expert mission are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania.
You can read the statement delivered by H.E. Rene Rosager Dinesen, Ambassador of Denmark on November 5 about the report.
Editor: Helen Wright