Updated: Mar 26, 2021
With reports of the detention of numerous political activists engaged in activities related to the upcoming presidential election in Belarus, leaders of a security-oriented intergovernmental organization’s human rights committee are calling for an open campaign environment. Media reports indicate the activists were detained on 29 and 30 May in several cities around Belarus due to collecting signatures in support of allowing opposition candidates to run for president against President Alexander Lukashenko in the upcoming election. Kyriakos Hadjiyianni of Cyprus, chairperson, Michael Link of Germany, vice-chairperson and Kari Henriksen of Norway, rapporteur at the human rights committee of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly say they are concerned the detention of prominent political activists inhibits the work of potential campaigns and has a chilling effect on society. They say with an important election just two months away, it is crucial authorities in Belarus do all they can to enable a thorough and open campaign environment. “We call on the authorities to exercise utmost restraint in the run-up to the 9 August presidential election and hope for a more free environment than we have previously witnessed. Election observation missions deployed by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and partners have previously expressed concern about restrictions on fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression,” they say. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has 323 parliamentarians from 57 countries spanning Europe, Central Asia and North America. It provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections and strengthens international co-operation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues.