On November 5, the OSCE Moscow Mechanism rapporteur Wolfgang Benedek, a professor of international law at the University of Graz, presented his 58-page report to the OSCE Permanent Council concerning alleged human rights violations related to the 9 August presidential elections in Belarus.
According to the author, the presidential election did fall short of fulfilling the basic international requirements for genuine elections; consequently, the allegations that the presidential elections were not transparent, free or fair were found confirmed.
“It is particularly worrying that the well-documented cases of torture and ill-treatment in the crackdown by the security forces on political dissent have not, as yet, resulted in anybody being held accountable, which confirms allegations of general impunity, also due to the absence of fair trials in political cases,” the report reads.
The report also mentions the persecution of media workers as an important element of the Belarusian political landscape:
“The freedom of the media and the safety of journalists are under massive attack, as are the freedom of assembly and association and the right to liberty and security. However, elections and human rights abuses are related to each other. Without democratic and structural reforms, it cannot be expected that necessary legal reforms will have the desired effects.”
As requested by the mandate and based on the findings in the report, the rapporteur has made recommendations to the Republic of Belarus (cancelling the results of the presidential elections; organising new elections based on international standards; immediately ceasing all violence; release all prisoners held for political reasons, including all detainees arrested in relation to the post-election protests; release all journalists and media workers, etc), to the OSCE, and to the international community (refrain from recognition of the presidential elections results; request new presidential elections under international monitoring; bringing perpetrators of torture and inhuman treatment among the Belarusian security forces and their responsible superiors to justice wherever possible, etc).
On 17 September 2020 the Moscow Mechanism of the human dimension of OSCE was invoked by 17 participating states with regard to credible reports of human rights violations before, during and after the presidential election of 9 August 2020 in the Republic of Belarus. The Mechanism, agreed by consensus by the OSCE participating states, allows for an investigation to be launched without consensus and independently of the OSCE Chairmanship, institutions and decision-making bodies 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’.