Threat of criminal prosecution of observers at odds with established co-operation on United States elections, ODIHR Director says
WARSAW, 24 October 2012 – Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressed his grave concern today over the threat of criminal prosecution of OSCE/ODIHR election observers.
This threat, contained in an open letter from the Attorney General of Texas, is at odds with the established good co-operation between OSCE/ODIHR observers and state authorities across the United States, including in Texas, Lenarčič said, adding that it is also contrary to the country’s obligations as an OSCE participating State.
The ODIHR Director shared his concerns in a letter to United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Lenarčič said. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”
The ODIHR Director also stressed that any concerns or reports that the election observers intended to influence or interfere with the election process were groundless. He underlined that OSCE/ODIHR election observers adhere to all national laws and regulations, as well as a strict code of conduct.
“Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way,” Lenarčič said. “They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.”
The ODIHR limited election observation mission for the 2012 general elections in the United States consists of a core team of 13 experts, from 10 OSCE participating States, based in Washington D.C., and 44 long-term observers deployed throughout the country. These are the sixth United States elections the Office has observed, without incident, since 2002.