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Commission calls for improvements to election process

Graphic: Dr Sima Samar, AIHRC Chairperson, addresses the media

The AIHRC deployed 275 staff to observe the election process in more than 22 provinces, with an estimated 1,000 polling stations monitored.

More than four million Afghans have cast their votes in polling booths across the country to elect representatives to the Wolesi Jirga (House of People).

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) dispatched observers to polling stations within the country's major cities and some districts.

"This election is an important pillar of Afghan democracy. The broad participation of citizens ensures the transparency and credibility of a free and fair process," AIHRC Chairperson Dr. Sima Samar said, after casting her vote.

Dr Samar described the active participation of Afghans in the election process a "sign of hope".

However, she expressed concern at the lack of preparation within the polling centres, including delayed openings and slow processing.

The AIHRC deployed 275 staff to observe the election process in more than 22 provinces, with an estimated 1,000 polling stations monitored.

It has a mandate to monitor political and civil rights in relation to the elections with a specific focus on the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assemblies, the right to freedom of associations and the right to freedom of movement.

The AIHRC also observes the extent to which the elections meet the principles of non-discrimination, non-intimidation and impartiality.

According to initial reports from Commission observers, the following shortcomings were identified during the voting process:

  • Failure to open polling centres on time: AIHRC observers reported that many of the polling stations were tardy in opening. Reports varied from one to six hours of delay in opening. Some polling stations have not yet opened.
  • Lack of voter lists at relevant polling stations: The AIHRC received reports from different provinces that voter lists were not available.
  • Biometric instruments not functioning: The AIHRC's findings indicate that biometrics were not working in many polling centres and/or that the Independent Election Commission (IEC) employees did not know how to use the machinery.
  • Accidents and security threats: AIHRC observers reported more than 22 security incidents causing civilian casualties and financial losses.
  • Absence of Election Commission staff at polling centres: In some provinces, a number of IEC staff did not show up to their designated polling stations or they arrived late. As a result, polling was not held in those centres and/or voters were discouraged from voting.
  • Election ink to mark voter's fingers can wash off: It was reported to the AIHRC that the ink used for voter's fingers can be washed away and is easily cleaned and/or eliminated by using chemical materials.

Based on these findings, the Commission calls upon the IEC to take immediate action and open those polling centres that have not yet been opened. It must also send the necessary staff, materials and equipment to the polling stations in a timely manner so that Afghan citizens can cast their votes in accordance the law.

The AIHRC also calls on the country's defense and security institutions to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the safety of voters and polling centres, in accordance with their legal obligations.

Date: 20 October 2018

Source: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Dr Sima Samar, AIHRC Chairperson, addresses the media - Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission