UN rapporteur urges Belarus to guarantee rights to secure free and fair elections
16:21, — Politics
Miklos Haraszti said that the country has to guarantee a series of human rights in order to give effect to the right to elect and to be elected, according to the UN press office.
While presenting his report on the situation in Belarus to the UN General Assembly in New York on October 29, Mr. Haraszti recalled that Belarus is the only country in Europe with no opposition in parliament.
"Elections in any country are the focal act of the expression of public will," said the rapporteur. "They are not simple administrative motions; they are the strongest link between universal human rights and national democracy."
The right to elect and to be elected is a basic human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Belarus is a party, said Mr. Haraszti.
"Citizens’ rights to contribute to the common good in elections have to be restored," he said. "The first steps must be to stop the curtailment of freedom of opinion and expression, association and peaceful assembly. The discriminatory regulations on party and candidate registration should be removed."
Further improvements should include the way election commissions are formed; the transparency of the ballot count; enabling the appeal of the election results; and making sure that polling stations immediately publish the results upon vote, he stressed.
Mr. Haraszti welcomed Belarus' plans to amend the Electoral Code this year, but expressed concern that the amendments had already passed the first reading in the House of Representatives without being published, as prescribed by international standards and Belarusian regulations.
"Legitimate, widely accepted rules can only be worked out with the participation of political parties and civil society," he noted. "Unfortunately, social consultations have not yet been initiated or accepted by the government."
The special rapporteur reiterated his readiness to work with the Belarusian authorities in support of a meaningful improvement of the human rights situation in the country.
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