Updated at 14:58,21-10-2016

OSCE PA Concerned Over Media Freedom in Belarus

23-12-2009, 16:29

The Working Group on Belarus at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is concerned about the country`s situation regarding freedom of the media and association, as well as a lack of opportunities for political parties to get fully involved in the country`s political life, Swedish MP Cecilia Wigstrom told reporters in Minsk on December 22.

Ms. Wigstrom, a member of the working group, is leading a delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly that arrived in Belarus on a three-day visit earlier this week.

She said that the delegation had held meetings with Belarusian government officials, representatives of civil society and political parties.

The Swedish MP noted that the delegation had urged the Belarusian authorities to expand their dialogue with international organizations, including the OSCE.

The meetings focused on, among other matters, a bill of amendments to the Electoral Code that passed the National Assembly earlier this month, Ms. Wigstrom said. She noted that she was not authorized to comment on the legislation and said that the OSCE still expected to receive the full text of the bill for review.

The OSCE and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights presented a detailed list of recommendations for the improvement of electoral regulations to the Belarusian authorities and hope that they were taken into account during the work on the bill, Ms. Wigstrom said.

Pawel Poncyljusz, a member of the delegation, noted that the recommendations had been made by the OSCE after the observation of Belarus` parliamentary elections in 2008. The two main problems noted by OSCE observers in the elections were candidate registration and vote counting, he said, adding that the new legislation had improved the procedure of candidate registration. The OSCE still expects the Belarusian authorities to solve the problem of public control over vote counting, Mr. Poncyljusz said.