PCHR Prepares for Monitoring Elections
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Date: 25 August 2004
PCHR Prepares for Monitoring Elections
Preparations are being made to hold elections in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). As it believes in the importance of holding free and periodic elections that can enhance the principle of political participation for all segments of the Palestinian people, PCHR, represented by its Democratic Development Unit and in cooperation with civil society groups, is preparing to effectively participate in locally monitoring the general and local elections in accordance with effective laws. In so doing, PCHR accepted calls from the Central Election Committee and submitted applications to accredit local observers to monitor the process of registration for the elections.
A presidential decree issued on Monday, 21 June 2004, called for general elections and assigned Saturday, 4 September 2004, as the starting date for registration for the elections, a process which will continue until Thursday, 7 October 2004. Accordingly, the Central Election Committee made preparations to open centers for electoral departments throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It has opened 1008 centers (251 in the Gaza Strip and 757 in the West Bank) for this purpose in 16 electoral districts throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Even through preparations are being made to hold elections and a time has been specified for registration, no new law has been passed to organize general elections, nor has the existing Palestinian election law 13 of 1995 been amended. No presidential decree has even been issued to decide the timing of the general or local elections. Additionally, the local council law no. 5 of 1996 has been under discussion in response to calls made by the Palestinian civilian society organizations due to a number of gaps and ambiguous terms contained within. The problems with the law relate to the definition of voters, the status of Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps and allocation of a quota for women to ensure effective women participation in the political arena. PCHR had already sent a letter to all members of the Palestinian Legislative Council that included its comments on this law in an attempt to enrich discussions of the law. PCHR emphasizes the importance of making amendments to the existing Palestinian election law or issuing a new law that can ensure free and impartial elections, political plurality and proportional representation for the spectra various of Palestinian political society. PCHR believes that it is also important to make amendments to the law of local councils and actively prepare for holding elections for local councils. Even though PCHR is aware of the obstacles that hinder holding elections, it asserts that is it important to ensure that elections are periodic and organized in a way that can guarantee peaceful transfer of authority.
According to PCHR’s estimations, the process of registration is expected to be conducted easily and without problems, although it is too early to predict its outcome. So far, it is not clear to what extent people are interested in registration given the current situation where Israeli occupation forces are perpetrating violations of human rights against the Palestinian people, and because it is unclear whether appropriate circumstances will be available to hold elections in the near future.
PCHR believes that registration is important since it is an essential step that ensures the right of participation for citizens, either through voting or candidature, regardless of future developments with regard to this process. PCHR believes also that monitoring of registration centers does not need the nomination of hundreds of observers, rather dozens of observers in the current stage will be enough. The record of voters being prepared will be effective for both general and local elections.
PCHR has a significant experience in monitoring elections as it monitored the Palestinian general elections in 1996. This experience will serve to develop PCHR’s performance in this regard through monitoring the expected elections. PCHR will also train local observers to monitor the elections when they are held.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893