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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2005 > December
Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 2, 2005


Belarus' Criminal Code Amendments

The United States joins the European Union in once again expressing concern about developments in Belarus. The Belarusian National Assembly gave preliminary approval to a bill amending the penal code. The provisions of the bill appear to violate international norms and many of Belarus' human rights commitments, including the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression. This bill seems clearly aimed at intimidating Belarusian citizens and stifling free speech as the country approaches presidential elections in 2006.

The United States urges the Belarusian National Assembly to reconsider its decision and to reject the draft legislation in keeping with of Belarus' OSCE commitments. The United States also calls on the Belarusian authorities to take concrete steps to demonstrate their willingness to respect democratic values and the rule of law, so that the rights of Belarusian citizens are fully respected.

Adopting such undemocratic legislation could incur serious consequences for Belarusian authorities. The United States remains ready to take further restrictive measures against the responsible Belarusian authorities in the event of failure to uphold international standards. Together with the EU, we urge Belarusian authorities to reject this draft bill.

2005/1127

Released on December 2, 2005

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