The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, today said that while the Presidential polls conducted in the country this past Sunday were not met with violence as in previous cases, no progress was made in serving the Belarusians’ right to free and fair election. “The election process was orchestrated, and the result was pre-ordained. It could not be otherwise, given the 20 years of continuous suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, which are the preconditions for any credible competition,” Mr. Haraszti said in a press statement. The Special Rapporteur noted that none of the international and local independent election monitors could verify the official claims of 86 per cent voter turnout or 84 per cent endorsement of the incumbent. “Such high scores have never been claimed in elections in Europe since the end of the Soviet Union,” Mr. Haraszti stressed. “The observers’ documentations highlighted that not even the four days of coerced participation of prison inmates, army conscripts, and public servants under the label of ‘early voting,’ can give up the stated numbers,” he added.
Mr. Haraszti also added that there were a high number of allegations of election-day fraud, such as undocumented handling of voter lists and ballots, voting on behalf of others, carrousel voting, ballot stuffing, voting without proper documents, and mobile voting abuses.
In 2013, the Special Rapporteur had presented his report to the UN General Assembly on human rights in electoral processes. The report made several recommendations such as creation of independent election commissions with a pluralistic composition, initiating debates between candidates on national television. Yet, none of these suggestions were implemented.
Mr. Haraszti also called attention to the intimidating environment of the electoral campaign. Calls for boycott of the elections were criminalized since the last elections. Political opponents, including an incarcerated 2010 presidential candidate, were released on the eve of the present presidential elections, but none of them have been reinstated in their political and civil rights.