Ten Human Rights Tips for Election Monitors

Bipin Adhikari
September 2005 (Liberia)

• United Nations has set out certain international standards for free and fair elections. Make these standards available for state authorities and all others involved in conducting elections and ensure that they are duly respected and observed.

• International standards on elections involve three central rights: right to take part in the government; right to vote and to be elected; and the right to [equal access] to public services. Inherent in these rights are freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom from discrimination. Help people understand, exercise and benefit from these rights.

• Right to take part in the government of a country is guaranteed for every adult citizen of Liberia under its ratified international human rights treaties and national laws. Remember and be mindful that each voter has a right to cast secret ballots freely, fairly and without being intimidated to elect their representatives of choice.

• While exercising one's rights, other fellow citizens' rights also must be respected. Let the rule of law take its course if anyone breaches other's rights. Advise, and if necessary, help the victim report to the electoral and law enforcement authorities to bring violators to justice and get legal redress from an impartial tribunal.

• Incidents of human rights violations and abuses may occur any time prior to, during and after the elections. Be alert and watchful, and immediately report such incidents to the human rights office. Also draw attention of NEC, Electoral Division and law enforcement officials towards any incident if the situation so demands.

• Many national and international actors, including election observers and civil society groups, are engaged in facilitating and ensuring the fairness of the electoral process. Work closely with them and contribute to the success of the elections through advice or participation in (civic awareness) activities as and when needed. Share human rights materials with as many people and interlocutors as possible.

• Fifty percent registered voters are women and nearly seventy percent of them may be poor and illiterate, and some of them are disabled as well. Make sure that no discrimination in the exercise of voting rights takes place against anyone on grounds of sex, colour, birth, belief, and social and economic status. Be gender sensitive, and ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded.
• Peaceful and friendly electoral atmosphere is needed to encourage voters to go out to the polling booths. Be a catalyst for helping civil society groups and others to create suitable environment for each stage of the electoral process.

• Every citizen has to be vigilant during electoral campaign, polling and counting periods. Encourage people not to be intimidated and influenced by miscreants when making their 'own judgment' to elect their leaders.

• Ballots in the hands of the voters represent their "right". Let the voters remember that proper use of their 'one ballot' can change the destiny of this country and bring a new light of hope for themselves and their future generation.

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