MINSK, 22 April (BelTA) – Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe represent another brazen attempt at external pressure on Belarus, BelTA learned from the comments released by the Legislation Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus in the wake of PACE's resolutions prompted by reports on Belarus.
According to the press service of the lower chamber of the Belarusian parliament, after reading the resolutions the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed on 21 April 2021 in response to David Blencathra's report “Urgent need for electoral reform in Belarus” and Alexandra Louis' report “Human rights violations in Belarus require an international investigation” Belarusian MPs made a number of comments. “As for the comprehensive reform of election laws in Belarus, we should note that the existing legislation stipulates a rather transparent and smooth mechanism for compiling lists of voters, allows every voter to get familiar with these lists and dispute their correctness in court. Decisions of election commissions can also be disputed at every stage of the election process. A number of presidential candidates used their right to dispute these decisions during the election campaign of 2020. However, the recommendations were given without taking into account these circumstances,” Belarusian MPs stated.
Belarusian MPs also believe that Belarusian laws on administrative and criminal prosecution fully realize requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the UN General Assembly passed on 16 December 1966. “The covenant's article 19 provides for freedom of expression as well as special responsibility to respect rights and reputation of other people, protect state security, public order, health, and morality of the population. Such approaches are inherent in legal systems of European countries while the Republic of Belarus is being criticized unjustifiably for it. Such actions can be described only as double standards,” the MPs noted. “The same approach should be used with regard to the fuzziness of Belarusian election laws, laws on public events, administrative and criminal prosecution. The Belarusian parliament has received no expert evaluations from qualified representatives of the legal community and international organizations in this regard.”
Belarusian MPs pointed out that any attempts to pressure courts directly contradict the main principles of independence of judicial authority, which were passed by the seventh UN Congress on Crime Prevention in Milan on 26 August – 6 September 1985 and were approved by UN General Assembly resolutions of 29 November 1985 and 13 December 1985. According to these documents, inappropriate influence, pressure, threats or interference cannot be tolerated in the execution of justice.
Representatives of the Belarusian parliament continued: “It is important for us to find out why the rapporteur Alexandra Louis has superficial understanding of the situation, manipulates explicit falsehoods, and yet believes she has the right to pronounce opinionated verdicts and call for measures that discriminate our country. We cannot interpret this approach in any other fashion but yet another brazen and patently vain attempt to pressure a sovereign state. In essence instead of balanced evaluations, an equal dialogue, and practical cooperation with Belarusian authorities the rapporteur has dictated another politicized and no-consensus resolution with support of a number of European countries. Its adoption represents a vivid example of double standards and a crisis of political institutions, in which Western countries dominate.”
Belarusian MPs believe it is unacceptable to use Alexandra Louis' recommendations to actively use these dubious and unverified facts for the criminal prosecution of Belarusian citizens abroad, for expanding sanctions, and for introducing restrictions. “We call upon PACE deputies to realistically and open mindedly evaluate the situation in Belarus and the region without wasting time on writing hopeless documents in a bid to suit minute political interests,” the source concluded.