The Human Rights Commission to Monitor the Local Level Election

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) held discussions with former chief election commissioners, former commissioners and civil society representatives with an aim to monitor the local level elections on 12 April 2022. The parties in the discussion encouraged the  commission to review the existing election law from a human rights perspective and suggest amendments. Following the discussion, the NHRC will oversee the election in three phases before, during and after the election to ensure the human rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, 1966. 

The pre-electoral phase begins from the election preparations and lasts until the completion of the electoral campaign. During this phase, activities may include revising laws, training election officials, educating voters, registering voters, and producing ballot  paperwork, voter registration, candidate registration, and election campaigning.  The election phase begins with the opening of polling stations and ends with the closing of polling stations on the actual day (or days) dedicated to the casting of ballots by eligible voters. The post-election phase occurs between the closing of voting stations and the release of final results. It includes, for example, the sealing and safe transportation of ballot boxes, the counting of ballot papers, independent oversight of the counting process, the collation of results, the declaration of provisional results, the resolution of electoral disputes and challenges to results, and the announcement of final results.

Section 5 of the Election Commission Act 2017 (2073) stipulates power to monitor or cause to be monitored election awareness, polling related to the election, vote counting or any other activity. The Commission may form teams consisting of officials or employees of the Commission or Nepal Government or State Government or experts for monitoring. In addition, the Commission may give permission to any domestic or foreign person or organization to observe actions pertaining to the act of election.

It is pertinent to note that, there is certain degree of overlap between monitoring human rights situations during elections and election observation. The latter is related to democratic rights. While the former is essentially concerned with violations of rights that are relevant to the electoral process such as freedom of association, prohibition of discrimination etc. However, this does not bar monitoring teams to  focus on possible incidents of human rights violations.

In the present context, the NHRC has issued a press note stating that it will observe the local level election which may include activities like, legislative review, election administration, registration of candidates and political parties, voter registration, election campaign, media coverage of an election, women’s participation in elections, participation of persons from minority communities, observing voting, observing the vote count and tabulation, post-election observation.

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