Seventeen members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have appointed an independent team of experts to investigate alleged rights violations in Belarus’ August presidential election, Denmark said on Thursday. “Basically, the mission is about holding the Belarussian authorities accountable for their gross violations of the right of the people of Belarus to have free and fair elections, fundamental freedoms and a well-functioning rule of law,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement. The mission is expected to publish a report within six to eight weeks, his ministry said. It will investigate reports of persecution of candidates, journalists and activists as well as excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, illegal detention and torture. President Alexander Lukashenko says he won re-election fairly and is the victim of a Western smear campaign.