NGOs need Electoral Commission sanction1
4:43 TodayTaken from/By: Fiji Elections OfficeReport by: Edwin Nand
The Attorney General’s Office says non-government organizations need to seek permission from the Electoral Commission before they can undertake voter education programmes. Under Section 115 of the Electoral Regulations, it’s unlawful for any person entity or organization that receive funding or assistance from foreign government, inter-government or non government organization, or multilateral agency to engage in, participate or conduct any campaign including debates, public forums, meetings, interviews, panel discussions or publishing any material related to the election.
Sub-section 2 states it’s also illegal to undertake any act which is assigned to the Eelctoral Commission or Supervisor –unless authorised in writing by the Commission or the Supervisor.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Decree doesn’t place a blanket ban on NGOs.“The Electoral Commission is the one responsible for voter education but I’m sure the Commission wouldn’t mind partnering with various NGOs because a lot of them do get a lot of funding. But heaven forbid that if you let them loose, and they have a particular agenda, they can go out to the rural areas and tell people the wrong thing.”He adds this is the reason the Commission must have over-sight on any elections related work by any NGO.
“This is why the education material needs to be sanctioned by the Electoral Commission. That’s precisely why the provision is there. They can do that, and they need to talk to the Commission. But in respect of some of the other material, that’s why the restrictions have been placed. They need to read the law.”Representatives from the Fiji Womens’ Crisis Centre, the Citizens Constitutional Forum and the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement have met with the AG’s office in relations to these restrictions. –