Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Obama signs Belarus democracy act into law

US President Barack Obama on January 3 signed the Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011 into law, said the press office of the White House.

The Act, sponsored by US Congressman Chris Smith, was given final approval by the US House of Representatives on December 20 after passing the Senate on December 14.

The new legislation expands the list of Belarusian officials who may be subject to visa and financial sanctions so as to include security officials involved in a crackdown after the December 19, 2010 presidential election.

It states that the United States will continue to call for the release of all individuals jailed in connection with the post-election crackdown as a condition for ending the US government`s sanctions on the government of Belarus, call for new presidential and parliamentary elections that will comply with OSCE standards, support the aspirations of the people of Belarus for democracy, human rights and the rule of law and their aspirations to preserve the independence and sovereignty of their country, as well as support democratic movements and institutions in Belarus that empower the people of Belarus to end tyranny in their country.

Under the document, the US will also call on the International Ice Hockey Federation to suspend its plan to hold the 2014 International World Ice Hockey championship in Minsk.

The Act requires the US Department of State to report to the Congress on the Belarusian government’s arms sales and cooperation with other governments in censoring or surveiling the Internet.