On 17 September 2020, Latvia and 16 other participating States of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, the United States of America – by invoking the Moscow Mechanism have initiated the establishment of a mission of independent experts for conducting an assessment of human rights violations in Belarus.
Latvia maintains that there is a need of such a step in view of the serious human rights violations in Belarus, especially violations taking place in the election process, including the crackdown on peaceful protests and restrictions on the activities of journalists.
In the immediate future, the OSCE will set up an independent mission of experts, which will compile information that is as objective as possible on developments in Belarus and produce a public report with recommendations. The report will be considered at the OSCE Permanent Council which also comprises Belarus as an OSCE participating State.
The Latvian Foreign Minister has underlined on a number of occasions that Belarusian authorities should put an end to detaining journalists and reprisals against civil society. Latvia will continue to support the Belarusian people in their struggle for democracy and calls on the Belarusian government to cooperate with the OSCE expert mission.
The OSCE is a regional organisation of 57 states, the aim of which is conflict prevention with the help of the so-called rapid response instruments, crisis resolution and post-conflict stabilisation. The organisation’s activities cover three dimensions: the politico-military; the economic and environmental; and the human dimension.
The so-called Moscow Mechanism is an OSCE tool established in 1991 at a meeting in Moscow. It can be used in exceptional cases when there are concerns over serious derogations from commitments concerning the OSCE's human (human rights) dimension. The mechanism can be invoked by at least ten participating States and, to date, it has been used eight times.