Source: Republic of Lithuania
On 5 November, the Report on Alleged Human Rights Violations Related to the Presidential Elections of 9 August in Belarus was presented to the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The report was issued after the invoking by Lithuania and 16 other OSCE participating states of one of the OSCE Human Dimension instruments – the Moscow Mechanism.
The author and independent expert, Professor Wolfgang Benedek said that “the allegations that the presidential elections were not transparent as well as neither free nor fair were found confirmed.” Numerous testimonies of the victims and witnesses of the events, reports by non-governmental and international organisations show indisputably that the Belarusian authorities committed massive and systematic human rights abuses before, during and after the presidential elections in Belarus: used force against peaceful protesters, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced and involuntary disappearances, sexual abuse, torture and other cruel, degrading treatment against detainees, intimidated and persecuted human rights defenders and media workers, used Internet shutdowns, as well as targeted content blocking. There is overwhelming evidence that these crimes have been committed with total impunity.
The report once again shows a broader trend that is completely unacceptable and has been repeatedly criticised – the deterioration of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.
“We urge those in power in Belarus to take immediate action to implement the recommendations contained in the report, first of all to stop violence against peaceful protesters, to release all those unlawfully detained, and to ensure full respect for the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the freedom of expression,” said Aurimas Taurantas, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the International Organizations in Vienna at the OSCE Permanent Council.
The recommendations to the Belarusian authorities, the OSCE participating countries and the international community are stated in the report in the hope of compensating the Belarusian civil society, bringing the perpetrators to justice, minimising the likelihood of such events in the future. In addition, the OSCE is calling for an in-depth independent international investigation into human rights violations in Belarus, because the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Belarus have been systematically violated for decades.
The OSCE participating countries are also requested not to recognise the results of the falsified election of 9 August 2020 and to demand a new democratic election in Belarus with the presence of international election observers.
The full report can be found here: https://www.osce.org/odihr/469539
On 17 September, Lithuania, together with Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Romania, Slovakia, and Finland, invoked the Moscow Mechanism in relation to serious human rights violations in Belarus.
The OSCE Moscow Mechanism is a tool, allowing for the establishment of a short-term fact finding mission to help address a specific human rights concern in the OSCE region. It is part of what is generally referred to as the OSCE Human Dimension Mechanism. The Mechanism allows for an investigation to be launched without consensus and independently of the OSCE Chairmanship, institutions and decision-making bodies, if at least ten states “consider that a particularly serious threat to the fulfillment of the provisions of the [OSCE] human dimension has arisen in another participating state”. It also stipulates that the rapporteurs report to the Permanent Council.
To date, the Moscow Mechanism has been invoked three times: 1) concerning alleged human rights violations and abuses committed with impunity in the Chechen Republic in 2018; 2) concerning the human rights situation and implementation of OSCE commitments in Belarus after the December 2010 presidential election; 3) concerning the persecution of political opponents in Turkmenistan in 2003.