VOTER ACCESS TO RELIABLE INFORMATION GETTING WORSE SAYS CANADIAN ELECTION MISSION

17.10.12


Canadian election mission

The Canadian Election Mission in Ukraine has published its second pre-election report.

The report is a stinging indictment of the fragility and failings of Ukraine's electoral processes. Voter bribery continues to be widespread, with several candidates using 'charitable' organisations in their own name to hand out free goods or service to voters. A positive development, however, is that in a recent poll, over 50% of Ukrainians deplored such bribery and said it would not affect the way they would vote.

The Central Electoral Commission, and the District and local commissions come in for particular criticism, both in the way that they have been constituted and in relation to the lack of transparency with which they are working. Meetings of the commissions at which international observers were present were, in several cases, delayed without explanation, with the suspicion that members of the commission were waiting for observers to leave.

Once again, the Election Mission highlights the lack of commitment and urgency to investigate complaints about breaches of electoral law:"The handling of election-related complaints and appeals by the election administration and judiciary does not demonstrate transparency, due process, and rule of law, thus undermining the protection of electoral rights and the integrity of the election process... Courts have maintained a disregard for the letter and spirit of the law and due process and are not uniformly applying evidentiary principles and legal interpretations. An overly formalistic approach to handling complaints continues in the courts which have refused or delayed consideration of a significant number of cases, many on questionable and dubious grounds."

 

And misuse of public resources is also a continued theme, with local authorities taking steps to prevent political rallies and meetings in public places, public buildings illegally promoting candidate publicity, and, in at least one case, a heavy-handed police search of an opposition office for an alleged minor infraction. Again, the courts are criticised for failing to deal with complaints adequately, "In dismissing cases, courts issued rulings that failed to apply fair and reasonable interpretations of evidence and law."

The Mission specifically mentions the continuing difficulty of people having access to reliable pluralistic sources of information. Although Rada's decision to scrap the law on defamation is welcome, there is no improvement in access to a free and fair media. "We are continuing to see: harassment of journalists, sanctions or orchestrated commercial pressure on broadcast entities critical of the Administration (such as Kapri-TV in Donetsk), the placement of paid-for editorial content that is not identified as such, and a general lack of pluralism. In the case of Kapri-TV, commercial and administrative sanctions have combined to remove the independent, family-owned channel from homes of thousands of viewers in eastern Ukraine." The report also cites many instances of misinformation and 'black PR' being used to discredit candidates.

To read the full report in Ukrainian or English, click here.

 

 

 



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