Procedure : 2016/2934(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-1238/2016

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 24/11/2016 - 8.13
CRE 24/11/2016 - 8.13
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

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to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the situation in Belarus (2016/2934(RSP))

Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Ignazio Corrao on behalf of the EFDD Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Belarus (2016/2934(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus,

–  having regard to the statement by the EEAS spokesperson on the parliamentary elections in Belarus of 13 September 2016,

–  having regard to the preliminary statement of the OSCE/ODIHR, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) of 12 September 2016 on the parliamentary elections in Belarus,

–  having regard to the report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus of 21 September 2016,

–  having regard to the parliamentary elections held on 11 September 2016 and to the presidential elections of 11 October 2015,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the 2015 presidential elections in Belarus were not considered free and fair, as electoral observers highlighted significant shortcomings and the OSCE/ODIHR mission concluded that Belarus still had a long way to go towards fulfilling its democratic commitments; whereas a set of recommendations to improve the electoral process and bring it into line with international standards were offered to the Belarus authorities for their consideration;

B.  whereas following the release of political prisoners in August 2015 the European Union decided not to extend restrictive measures against a number of Belarusian individuals and legal entities; whereas the Belarusian authorities have so far ignored the calls to restore the released political prisoners’ civil and political rights; whereas new politically motivated detention sentences were pronounced in the past year;

C.  whereas on 6 June 2016 the President of Belarus called elections for the House of Representatives; whereas these elections took place on 11 September 2016; whereas more than 827 international and 32 100 citizen observers were accredited for the elections; whereas an OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission (EOM) was deployed to observe the elections following an invitation from the Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

D.  whereas despite the Central Election Commission (CEC) adopting six resolutions addressing some technical aspects of the electoral process, a significant number of earlier key recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission remain unaddressed;

E.  whereas the role of political parties in Belarus remains extremely weak and no new party has been registered since 2000;

F.  whereas restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of association, expression and assembly affected the environment in which the elections were held, and unequal access to state and public institutions and resources skewed the playing field; whereas the constitutional and legal framework in Belarus does not adequately guarantee the conduct of an election in line with international standards;

G.  whereas the electoral system does not foresee special measures to enhance women’s representation;

H.  whereas Belarus is the only country on the European continent still applying the death penalty; whereas at least four people have been sentenced to death since February and about 400 people have been executed since the country gained independence in 1991;

I.  whereas on 13 October 2016 the EU formally launched a Mobility Partnership with the Republic of Belarus; whereas negotiations on a visa agreement are ongoing;

J.  whereas the situation of human rights in Belarus remains highly problematic as no substantive change has been observed; whereas Belarus is still not cooperating with the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in Belarus;

K.  whereas the European Union is committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous Belarus;

1.  Welcomes the steps forward seen during the 2016 parliamentary elections, including the election of two opposition candidates for the first time since 2000, the efficient organisation of the election, and the fact that election day proceeded in an orderly manner and the voting was assessed positively;

2.  Remains worried by a number of systematic shortcomings that still mar the overall electoral process, including serious procedural deficiencies, and inconsistencies and irregularities during early voting, counting and tabulation;

3.  Underlines a number of structural problems that still prevent free and fair elections, and in particular: a legal framework that is interpreted in an overly restrictive manner, thus limiting political rights and fundamental freedoms; the skewed composition of the election commission; an overly restrictive approach to candidate registration which creates unreasonable and disproportionate barriers to candidacy; restrictions on the freedoms of association, expression and assembly negatively affecting the electoral environment; and the strict media regulations and media coverage that narrowed voters’ opportunities to receive candidate information;

4.  Welcomes the recent amendments to the electoral legislation following the 2015 presidential elections, but notes that such amendments fail to address some of the key recommendations issued after those elections; calls on the Belarus authorities to fully implement the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission, in cooperation with international partners;

5.  Highlights the need for a comprehensive electoral reform as a part of a broader democratisation process with the aim of overhauling a constitutional and legal framework which as it stands does not guarantee the conduct of elections in line with international obligations and standards;

6.  Welcomes the willingness of the Belarus authorities to invite a large number of observers and the welcoming approach of the administration towards them; salutes the constructive role of civil society during the elections, and calls on the EEAS and the Commission to keep supporting civil society organisations in Belarus;

7.  Is worried by the upsurge of new and confirmed death sentences in Belarus over the last year; calls on the Belarus authorities to consider a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, as a first step toward its abolition, as committed by Belarus in response to the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council in the Universal Periodic Review; highlights the fact that such a moratorium would be a decisive step in bringing Belarus closer to EU values;

8.  Calls on the Belarusian Government to free all political prisoners still in detention, and to rehabilitate the released political prisoners and restore their civil and political rights;

9.  Calls on the Belarus authorities to fully cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, recognising and extending full cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur by engaging in dialogue and facilitating a country visit in 2017, and to move along a genuine path of human rights reform; calls on the Belarusian Government to demonstrate specific and concrete progress on human rights benchmarks; calls on the Council and the Commission to link any financial assistance to the country to progress in this field;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), the European External Action Service, the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the OSCE/ODHIR, the Council of Europe and the Belarusian authorities.

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