9 October 2013

At the meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections (NAC) held at the Elections Commission’s (EC) headquarters on 9 October 2013, Transparency Maldives (TM) sought clarifications, made comments and observations and provided advise. A summary of the details follow.

Updates by the Elections Commission
  • Re-registration for the election scheduled for 19 October to begin at 6pm on 9 October 2013. Re-registration will conclude at 11:59pm 10 October 2013.
  • Ballot papers will be given to print today, 9 October.
  • Elections Commission has not received the details of the Supreme Court verdict (number 42) regarding the discrepancies in the voter registry and in the records of citizens who voted (eg. ID card number mismatch, permanent address mismatch, name mismatch) on Election Day.
  • An additional 7 ballot boxes will be added to the 470 ballot boxes of the annulled 7 September 2013 elections.
  • The Elections Commission informed the National Advisory Committee for Elections that the Elections Commission will not be able to guarantee the right to vote for people with discrepancies in the voter registry and their ID cards.
About the National Advisory Committee for Elections

The National Advisory Committee for Elections is convened by the Elections Commission and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.

 

Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.


12 September 2013

At the eleventh meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections (NAC) held at the Elections Commission’s (EC) headquarters on 12 September 2013, Transparency Maldives (TM) sought clarifications, made comments and observations and provided advise. A summary of the details follow.

 

The meeting was convened at the request of Jumhooree Party.

 

1. Jumhooree Party made three requests: 1. Recount of all 470 ballot boxes; 2. Provide JP the voter registry with ID card information; and 3. Copies of lists of all citizens who voted at each of the 470 polling stations.

 

1.1 Recount of all 470 ballot boxes

 

The EC informed the committee that counting all 470 ballot boxes is a huge challenge provided the limited time frame; and that the legal framework does not allow for opening of envelopes containing ballot papers for recounting without a basis.

 

The EC however stressed that the all members of the commission are willing to conduct a recount of any ballot box where credible evidence of fraud is presented to the commission.

 

All of the representatives of the candidates present at the meeting, except for MDP representative advised the EC to recount all 470 ballot boxes.

 

1.2. Provide JP with the voter registry, including the ID card information

 

The EC informed the committee that the EC is unable to do so as the ID card information is private information of citizens.

 

1.3 Copies of lists of all citizens who voted at each of the 470 polling stations

 

The EC informed the committee that the EC will provide the copies of lists of all citizens who voted at the 470 polling stations only at an order of the court as the legal framework prohibits the EC from handing over the information.

Other points of note
  • EC informed the committee that the final results of the first round of Presidential Election 2013 will be made public at 3pm, 14 September.
  • JP informed the committee that from their investigations, they have so far located on the voter registry: 659 deceased persons; 1,800 non-existent entrees that do not correspond to Department of National Registration data; 6,000 people who have been moved or put under households without their knowledge; 100 repeated names; and 20 reports of underage or children whose age were increased and then voted on 7 September 2013.
About the National Advisory Committee for Elections

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is convened by the Elections Commission (EC) and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.

 

Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.

Links to previous NAC meeting updates are given below.


25 August 2013

At the fifth meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections (NAC) held at the Elections Commission’s (EC) headquarters on 18 August 2013, Transparency Maldives (TM) sought clarifications, made comments and observations and gave advice. Citizen concerns raised through social media were conveyed to EC. A summary of the details follow.

 

1. EC will be signing an MoU with the Maldives Police Service and the draft of the MoU is currently being circulated for comments. EC expects the MoU to be signed with MPS in the next few days. Transparency Maldives has in the past Advisory Committee meetings, advocated for and advised the EC to come to an understanding with the MPS that clarifying the roles and responsibilities of MPS and EC as regards security, communication and emergency intervention protocols

 

2. The issue of early announcement of results at polling stations in Malaysia and Singapore negatively affecting voting in Maldives were discussed. Delay in announcement of results was suggested by a member of the NAC. Transparency Maldives advised the EC to proceed as planned as delay of results may create suspicion and will also be in conflict with the electoral legal framework.

 

Outcome: EC will inform the Committee of their decision.

 

3. NAC members queried the EC regarding their voter education programs and their impact. NAC members felt that the EC should be doing more to educate voters. TM advised EC to conduct additional voter education on aspects of voting to ensure invalid ballots are minimized and citizens are clear regarding valid and invalid ballots.

 

4. The issue of Commissioner of Police, Riyaz broadcasting a short message via twitter that is widely believed to be a partisan message was brought forward for the consideration of the committee. EC informed the the committee that appropriate measures will be taken by the EC and has since requested the Police Integrity Commission to investigate the case. MPS representative informed the committee that the MPS has internal mechanisms to deal with alleged breaches and misconduct.

 

5. MDP raised the issue of 91 people being registered twice. The Committee was informed by the EC of internal mechanisms instituted such as sending accompanying notes with the voter registry where such double entries have occurred. The 91 entries had occurred primarily due to 200 persons with double ID card numbers in the system.

 

Other points of note

MDP informed the Committee that the party will conduct an exit poll on election day.

 

Updates by the Elections Commission

Voter lists have been dispatched to island offices. These lists will not include ID card numbers and birthdates to protect the privacy voters.

 

Ballot papers have been printed. The total number of printed ballot papers equal the total number of registered voters plus 1% of the registered voters.

 

EC has decided to publish a list of voters following the election day, and see no legal barriers preventing the publishing of such a list.

 

EC implores voters to utilize formal complaints mechanism (the Complaints Bureaus) for submitting complaints instead of informal mechanisms such as calling up EC’s hotlines.

 

About the National Advisory Committee for Elections

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is convened by the Elections Commission (EC) and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.

 

Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.

Links to previous NAC meeting updates are given below.


18 August 2013

At the fourth meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections (NAC) held at the Elections Commission’s (EC) headquarters on 18 August 2013, Transparency Maldives (TM) sought clarifications, made comments and observations and gave advice. Citizen concerns raised through social media were conveyed to EC. A summary of the details follow.

 

1. Mohamed Aslam, the representative of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) to the NAC, requested EC to reconsider its decision to not work/collaborate with the MBC in implementing Article 30 of the General Elections Act pertaining to provision of equal opportunity for candidates to campaign on broadcast media.

 

Transparency Maldives also requested EC to reconsider the decision as cooperation and coordination between relevant institutions is key in implementing the spirit of the relevant Acts, provided the confusions and lack of clarity in the legal framework. For additional information on the issue, see Chapter 2.1.3, Media section, page 18-19 of the Pre-Election Assessment 2013 by Transparency Maldives.

 

Outcome: EC informed that the commission may consider the advice of TM and others.

 

2. Transparency Maldives and Maldives Police Service (MPS) requested for clarity on the decisions made by the EC on issues raised by the members of the NAC. MPS specifically raised the issue of the proposals for an MoU between EC and MPS regarding clarification of roles and responsibilities and protocols of intervention by MPS on election day for the purpose of maintaining security during and on election day. (See Transparency Maldives’ blogpost on the 2nd meeting of the NAC).

 

Outcome: EC informed the NAC that the NAC meeting is scheduled for Sunday of every week so that the issues raised at the NAC can be discussed at the EC meeting the following day, every Monday of the week.

 

3. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) raised the issue of the integrity of IT systems of the EC, with regard to EC’s databases and softwares, and that the party implores the EC to conduct an independent expert review to guarantee the integrity of the systems. The EC had earlier publicly stated that no party can have access to it’s softwares citing potential hacking and compromise of the security of the systems.

 

TM advised the EC to allow as much transparency as possible without compromising the security of the softwares as trust in electoral systems is key to prevention of potential conflict. TM noted that the fears raised by PPM can be allayed without compromising the integrity and security of the IT systems. TM also noted that the issue originally arose due to the failure of the EC to communicate the work of the EC. TM advised the EC to proactively communicate it’s work to prevent suspicion and confusion.

 

Outcome: EC said that commission may consider the advice by the TM.

 

Other points of note:

  • Voter registration issues were discussed at the NAC. EC provided updates on current issues including the change of location of ballot boxes for reasons of security, convenience and finance.
About the National Advisory Committee for Elections

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is convened by the Elections Commission (EC) and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.

 

Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.

Links to previous NAC meeting updates are given below.

 

Meeting 3

Meeting 2


11 August 2013

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is convened by the Elections Commission (EC) and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.

 

Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.

 

At the third meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections held at the Elections Commission’s headquarters on 11 August 2013, Transparency Maldives sought clarifications, made comments and observations and gave advice. Citizen concerns raised through social media were conveyed to EC. A summary of the details follow.

 

1. Members impressed upon the EC the need for SOPs (standard operating procedures) for the proper functioning of NAC.

 

Outcome: EC will circulate an SOP document of the NAC to all members.

 

The need for minute keeping, distribution of minutes ahead of the next NAC meeting, endorsement of the minutes by the NAC, setting an agenda ahead of meeting (members to propose agenda items prior to the meeting),

Other points of note:

  • Registration update by Elections Commission:64,122 re-registered to vote as of 11 August 2013. EC is now processing the final batches of forms.
  • 1,900+, 1,022, 751, 219, 140, 116 voters have registered to vote in Colombo, Trivandrum, Malaysia, London, Singapore and New Delhi respectively.
  • So far, 2,271, 1,530, and 1,399 have requested accreditation as observers (NGO and political parties), media monitors and candidate agents respectively.
  • 77 and 23 international observers and international media monitors have requested for accreditation with the EC respectively.
  • Persons who have registered at a certain location to vote, but a ballot box will not be placed due to low number of voters, will be allowed till 13 August 2013 to re-register at a location of choice.

4 August 2013

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is convened by the Elections Commission (EC) and is the highest statutory advisory body for elections. The committee comprises the five members of the Elections Commission, a representative of each of the four candidates contesting the Presidential Elections 2013, a member of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, Maldives Media Council and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, a representative of the Maldives Police Service and civil society.

 

Transparency Maldives’ (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager, Aiman Rasheed sits on the National Advisory Committee for Elections as the civil society representative.

 

At the second meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Elections held at the Elections Commission’s headquarters on 4 August 2013, Transparency Maldives sought clarifications, made comments and observations and gave advice. Citizen concerns raised through social media were conveyed to EC. A summary of the details follow.

 

1. TM advised the EC to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) with regard to the authority of the EC staff in charge of elections and the police officer stationed at the polling center. As per the electoral legal framework, the lead EC staff is in charge of the polling area and any intervention from the police must be made upon the request of the EC staff in charge. However, the protocols for intervention in an emergency has not been cleared though the EC and there is no common understanding of such protocols. Additionally, both the MPS and EC have separately commenced training of their staffs and officials without the protocols in place. It is imperative that the MPS and the EC come to an understanding, and details of the such an MoU or document must be publicized to build trust between MPS, EC and the public. TM also recommended the roles of responsibilities of the police be made public at the polling station via posters.

 

Outcome: The NAC was informed that the issue will be discussed at the next EC meeting on 5 August 2013.

 

2. TM requested for the minute details of standards to determine physical disability, and chronological steps of the counting and assisted voting processes as such details have not been made public yet. Assisted voting was a major concern for Transparency Maldives in the Local Council Elections due to the room for negative impact on the free exercise of the franchise in the absence of clear procedures.

 

Outcome: EC informed the NAC that the requested details will be published as part of the Officials’ Handbook and will be made available for the NAC at the earliest.

 

3. TM sought clarifications on the problems with the resort voting. As per the legal framework, a ballot box can only be placed once 50 voters are registered at the resort and if the required 50 voters is not reached, the persons who have registered will default to their permanent residence registry. TM requested EC to allow for administrative leniency in such instances for re-registration to enable such voters to re-register at a place of their choice upon finding that the required number was not reached.

 

Outcome: EC informed the NAC that staff of resorts have been informed via resort administrations to register to ballot boxes in nearby islands should the required number not be reached by 6. The deadline for re-registration is 7 August 2013.

 

4. TM sought clarifications from the MPS and the EC as to why MPS was collecting details of deceased persons from islands.

 

Outcome: MPS representative clarified that the MPS is collecting the data for investigation purposes due to complaints of ghost voter registration, upon request of EC.

 

5. TM sought an update on the numbers of new ID cards issued. The EC at the first meeting of the NAC informed that 6,500 plus citizens will require to renew ID cards to vote.

 

Outcome: The EC will clarify with the Department of National Registration (DNR) and provide an update to the NAC at the next NAC meeting.

Other points of note:

  • EC informed the NAC that 300 plus persons with double identity card numbers are on the voter registry. The 300 persons can theoretically be issued 600 ID cards. Over a 1,000 such entries have been removed by the EC by communicating directly with persons. EC proposed and the NAC agreed that the EC may put two fields for both ID numbers for persons assigned double numbers so that once a person votes with one of such ID card, the person will then not be able to vote with the second ID card.
  • With 3 days to the re-registration deadline, 44,000 of an estimated 65,000 are now registered.
  • The EC has been assured by the DNR that ID cards for about 350 inmates will be provided in time for voting.

Asia Pacific Regional Program meeting Asia Pacific Regional Program meeting[/caption]

 

Transparency Maldives participated in the Transparency International Asia Pacific regional annual planning meeting held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from the 12th to the 14th of June 2013. This year’s meeting was hosted by Transparency International Cambodia. 24 Transparency International chapters in the Asia Pacific region attended the meeting. The meeting focused on programmatic work, advocacy and communications, emphasizing on regional cooperation.

 

During the meeting all the 24 Transparency International chapters expressed serious concern regarding persistent corruption in the region and called on governments in the region to strengthen their commitment to transparency and accountability, and to step up their anti-corruption measures.

 

The regional planning meeting was followed by a meeting of the South Asia chapters to discuss the progress of National Integrity Contextual Assessment (NICSA) and to plan the next phase of the research and to plan out regional interventions for the release of the regional NICSA.

 

Transparency Maldives was represented by Ms. Ilham Mohamed, Executive Director, and Mr. Mohamed Thoriq Hamid, Program Manager.


NGO Forum

 

Transparency Maldives has called for stronger anti-corruption safeguards in climate finance in the outcome document which was presented to Minister of Environment Dr Shakeela at an NGOs forum held on Sunday.

 

The outcome document included thirteen key recommendations to the government, including ensuring access rights such as participation of citizen bodies in government’s decision making on issues of sustainable development and environment.

 

Transparency Maldives Chairperson, Mohamed Rasheed Bari, made a presentation to the forum participants on the topic of strengthening NGOs role in environmental governance. Azim Zahir, TM’s senior project coordinator, led the discussions on NGO recommendations to the government.

 

Mr Bari also called on the government to strengthen governance mechanisms by including stronger standards of transparency, accountability and integrity.

 

The NGOs forum, organized jointly by NGO Federation and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, focused on NGOs role in environmental governance and management.

 

Dr Shakeela promised the government would seriously consider all the recommendations.


Transparency Maldives met with the members of the Elections Commission on the 3rd of April to discuss on implementing the key recommendations in its recently published Pre-Election Assessment. The EC welcomed TM’s report and assured the commission’s consideration of the findings of the report. Recommendations in the report regarding the legal electoral framework, voter education, and elections dispute resolution were discussed at the meeting.

 

Transparency Maldives met the EC on April 18, to discuss recommendations proposed by Transparency Maldives to the Presidential Elections Regulation 2013.

 

General recommendations proposed by Transparency Maldives regarding the complaints system, early convening of the national advisory board, voter issues, campaign financing, and media issues were discussed.

 

In addition to it’s meetings with Elections Commission Transparency Maldives has met with and continues to meet with stakeholders including the public broadcaster Television Maldives, Anti Corruption Commission of Maldives to advocate for changes to the electoral framework and push for recommendations identified in the Pre-Election Assessment 2013.


TM releases its pre-election assessment

 

TM releases its pre-election assessment.[/caption]

 

A pre-election assessment conducted by Transparency Maldives has concluded that trust and confidence in the political system, relevant institutions and institutional processes, needed to be increased and maintained for holding successful presidential elections later this year.

 

The assessment, which was based on interviews with key stakeholders and focus group discussions, highlighted the need for increasing and maintaining confidence in the electoral administration and processes, and recommends the Elections Commission to proactively and regularly engage with relevant actors.

 

“Several interlocutors we met highlighted that there was a need for the Elections Commission to be more proactive. There is a concern that everyone was not on board as the EC prepares for the elections”, TM’s Advocacy Manager Aiman Rasheed commented.

 

Similarly, the assessment recommended that institutions such as the judiciary that handles any case affecting the electoral rights of voters and candidates must ensure public confidence and must be unquestionable.

 

The assessment also found that a crisis of confidence and trust in politicians sincerity to deliver on their promises was one of the main reasons for the practice of vote buying.

 

As a key recommendation, the assessment calls on the EC, the media and the civil society, to organise urgent voter education and constructive public debate around issues.

 

In the assessment, the elections complaints and dispute resolution system was described as broken and lacking stakeholder trust.

 

“Almost all of the interlocutors we met described the electoral complaints system as an utter failure,” said Mr Rasheed.

 

Part of the solution we propose is establishing an interagency task force between relevant institutions such as the Police, the Prosecutor General, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the EC.

 

We have also recommended for urgent reforms to the electoral legal framework to establish an independent complaints tribunal, and better regulate the most problematic areas such as political finance and interagency jurisdictional issues.

 

Without such reforms, what the assessment calls the culture of misuse of state resources could not be addressed too, Mr Rasheed added.

 

The pre-election assessment is part of TM’s comprehensive Elections Program to conduct nation-wide observation of the upcoming elections.

 

The assessment was released at a press conference on Thursday.

 

To download the assessment tm_pre_election_assessment

 

To download Dhivehi press release elections_pressrelease

 

Media contact:

 

Aiman Rasheed, Advocacy and Communications Manager

Mobile: +960 7908967

Email: aiman.rasheed@transparencymaldives.org


Transparency Maldives and RTI experts meeting with Majlis Social Affairs Committee

 

Transparency Maldives and RTI experts meeting with Majlis Social Affairs Committee.

 

International experts who participated in the RTI Symposium along with staff of Transparency Maldives met with the Social Affairs Committee on 24th October 2012 reinforcing the positions of Transparency Maldives to advocate for the timely passage of a strong RTI Bill and propose amendments to further strengthen the bill. The Committee welcomed Transparency Maldives engagement with the People’s Majlis, especially with the Social Affairs Committee on providing technical support in the development of the bill. The Committee agreed with TM’s recommendations and promised to give full consideration to those recommendations at the committee stage. The group of experts also provided written comments to the RTI Bill based on the discussions with the Committee.

 

In addition to meeting with the Social Affairs Committee Mr. Venkatesh Nayak and Mr Michael Karanicolas also made media appearances to promote RTI in the Maldives. Mr. Nayak appeared on Raajje TV after the English News on 24th October 2012.

 

Mr. Karanicolas appeared on Dhi TV on the same night, along with Transparency Maldives Advocacy and Communication’s Manager, Mr. Aiman Rasheed. Both programs were aired during primetime.

 

Minutes of Social Affairs Committee meeting with Transparency Maldives


speaker_shahid

 

Transparency Maldives organized a symposium on Right to Information with international speakers and panelists as part of a project funded by UNDEF in partnership with UNDP Maldives on 23 October 2012. The specific objectives of the symposium were to: promote RTI as a tool to advance democracy; facilitate sharing of experiences and international best practices; and create demand and culture a deeper appreciation for RTI.

 

The Symposium was attended by President’s Office, state ministers, senior government officials, members of Human Rights Commission, Anti Corruption Commission and Elections Commission, Maldives Police Service, Police Integrity Commission, Prosecutor Generals Office, UNDP, Maldives Post Limited, Maldives Customs Service, Local Government Authority and representatives from the civil society and media.

 

The closing ceremony was attended by Hon Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who made a commitment to contribute to expediting the process of passage of the RTI Bill currently at the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament.

 

Team of Experts

 

intenational_speakersInternational experts from leading organizations on RTI, including the Open Society Justice Initiative (US), Open Democracy Advice Center (South Africa), Center for Law and Democracy (Canada), Central Information Commission of India (former) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (India).

 

1. Ms. Sandra Colliver, Senior Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative.

2. Mr. Mukelani Dimba, Deputy Executive Director, Open Democracy Advice Centre, South Africa.

3. Mr. Michael Karanicolas, Legal Officer Centre of Law and Democracy.

4. Mr. Sailesh Gandi, former Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, India

5. Mr. Venkatesh Nayak, Program Coordinator, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India

6. Uz. Mohamed Anil, Chairperson, Democracy House, Maldives

 

Sessions conducted at the symposium

 

The following sessions were conducted at the symposium.

  1. Right to Information and Democracy – history of RTI, importance of RTI in democratic governance and history of RTI in Maldives.
  2. Administering an RTI regime – practical aspect of administering an RTI regime, appeal processes, redress mechanisms, archiving and challenges faced.
  3. Local governance and RTI – importance of building relationship between democratic participatory governance and the role of RTI in local governance and how it can empower rural and vulnerable communities.
  4. Proactive Disclosure was the last session and we looked at its features in a good RTI regime and speakers discussed about creating a culture of proactively disclosing information across the state.
  5. In the closing session the speakers shared Success Stories from across the world.

Transparency Maldives is preparing a report on the symposium, which would include papers from the international speakers on different aspects of RTI, the discussions in the symposium and a list of resources that the participants can access to further their knowledge on RTI. The report will be shared with all the participants and will also be made available to the larger public.