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OSCE Moscow Mechanism Report on Belarus

11 November 2020

On 5 November 2020, OSCE Moscow Mechanism rapporteur Wolfgang Benedek presented his report concerning alleged human rights violations related to the 9 August presidential elections in Belarus to the OSCE Permanent Council. The Moscow Mechanism, agreed by consensus by the OSCE participating states, allows for an investigation to be launched if one State, supported by at least nine others, “considers that a particularly serious threat to the fulfilment of the provisions of the [OSCE] human dimension has arisen in another participating State”.

The mandate of the rapporteur was defined by the 17 participating states as to establish the facts and give advice on possible solutions to the questions raised, which were defined as:

Intimidation and persecution of political activists, candidates, journalists, media actors, lawyers, labour activists and human rights defenders, as well as the detention of prospective candidates; election fraud; restriction on access to information, including internet shutdowns; excessive use of force against peaceful protesters; arbitrary and unlawful arrests or detentions; beatings; sexual and gender violence; abductions and enforced disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and widespread impunity for all of the above.

The findings were clear. With regards to election fraud, the rapporteur concluded that the elections did not meet the basic requirements established on the basis of previous election monitoring. The presidential elections fell short of fulfilling the basic international requirements for genuine elections. The allegations that the presidential elections were not transparent, free or fair were found confirmed.

The allegations relating to major human rights abuses were found to be massive and systematic and proven beyond doubt. Particularly worrying is that the well-documented cases of torture and ill-treatment by the security forces in the crackdown on political dissent have not resulted in anybody being held accountable.

The rapporteur has made recommendations to the Republic of Belarus, to the OSCE and to the international community:

… which could contribute to addressing the dramatic situation with regard to the Presidential election and the related massive human rights violations, which were still ongoing when the rapporteur had to
complete his report. This was done in a constructive spirit with a view to the future of Belarus as a European country based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

To read more about the recommendations made by the rapporteur, read the statement by the Civic Solidarity Platform, which advocates for effective and coordinated actions by the international community to implement the Moscow Mechanism report recommendations.

Read the full report by the rapporteur here.