MINSK, 2 December 2005 - The Head of the OSCE Office in Minsk, Ambassador Ake Peterson, today said he was gravely concerned over the adoption by the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus of amendments that could deal a serious blow to civil society and individuals.
If approved, the "Introduction of amendments and changes to certain legislative acts of the Republic of Belarus on strengthening liability for the deeds, addressed against a person and public security," with its vague definitions, may open the way for arbitrary application of the law.
"As such, these provisions have the potential to become a flagrant violation of a number of the OSCE principles and commitments that Belarus has subscribed to," said Ambassador Ake Peterson.
"The Introduction of a new article in the law, on Discrediting the Republic of Belarus, raises a particular concern, since it provides for criminal liability for submitting to an international organization false information on the situation in the country. The OSCE Office in Minsk believes that this could have a negative impact on the co-operation between the Office and civil society and effectively undermine efforts to fulfill its mandate."