OSCE, ODIHR, PACE and OSCE PA observer mission – elections were not democratic

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Baku / 02.11.20 / Turan: On February 10, the joint observer mission from the OSCE / ODIHR, PACE and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly presented the results of the monitoring of the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan on February 9.

The general assessment of the heads of the three groups of observers was such that they did not comply with European standards of democracy, and these elections cannot be considered free will of the population.

In particular, OSCE ODIHR mission coordinator Andrei Gerasimov said restrictive legislation and the political environment hindered genuine competition in the early parliamentary elections.

Due to the lack of real political debate, voters were not given a meaningful choice. Many candidates used social media to connect with voters, but this did not compensate for the campaign’s coverage in traditional media, he said.

Many of the long-standing recommendations of the ODIHR and the Venice Commission regarding fundamental media freedoms and the registration of candidates have not been implemented. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on 23 cases of violation of the right to free elections. However, none of the decisions was enforced, including the case of Ilgar Mammadov, because of which he could not run, he added.

PACE mission coordinator, Frank Schwabe said observers recorded numerous violations and especially during the vote count.

Despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and the right to access information, they are severely limited by basic legislation. Traditional media did not provide voters with information about the contestants and their platforms, and broadcasting events were not covered by broadcasters, while the president was widely covered. Coverage of news related to the elections was reduced to reports on the activities of the CEC. In contrast, social media platforms provide alternative political information. However, the public was deprived of genuine political debate.

On election day, voting was rated negatively at 7% of polling stations, which is a high indicator and indicates serious procedural shortcomings. Mandatory voter seals were often overlooked, and observers reported cases of ballot stuffing and group voting. Counting was negatively assessed in more than half of the reports, mainly due to blatant disregard for important reconciliation procedures and limited transparency.

OSCE PA Mission Coordinator Elena Khoja Jebrea said the lack of conditions for debate prevented voters from knowing the candidates’ program.

On election day, numerous reports of violations were received. The mission used a well-established methodology and assessed the pre-election period and the voting itself from the standpoint of international standards, and was completely objective, she noted.

A preliminary opinion will be prepared with this in mind. The preliminary findings of the mission report, which was presented to reporters and the public, said, “ensuring fundamental rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan is a serious concern.”

Reports of systematic harassment and prosecution of those criticize the government, also causes serious concern. There was no competitive environment in the elections, and freedom of assembly and association was not ensured.

There is evidence of pressure on civil servants not to support the opposition, and opposition activists were called to the police and pressured.

Observers recorded violations of procedures: the lack of ballot counting (35 cases), the recording of the serial numbers of ballot boxes (37 cases).

The voting process was negatively assessed at 7% of polling stations where monitoring was conducted.

Voters often did not subscribe (9%) or were not checked for ink traces (13%),

Throwing ballot boxes was recorded in 16% of the plots. Carousels by 5%, violation of secrecy by 4% of polling stations.

In 39 cases, commission members did not cooperate with observers, and in 6 cases, representatives of parties or candidates were expelled. At 44 polling stations, unauthorized persons were noticed, including police officers, the security service and military personnel, as well as government officials.

The vote count was rated negatively in 66 of 113 cases due to blatant disregard for important procedures.

After opening the ballot boxes, observers noticed a ballot box stuffing. In 7 cases, the number of ballots was greater than the number of voters. In 15 cases, observers noticed intentional falsification of protocols.

In 22 cases, the chairs of the commissions did not sign the printouts of the minutes. In 17 precincts, either the numbers of the protocols were changed or they were filled in violation of the law. -02B-

 

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