The rights of the special categories will be respected in the local elections
The National Commission for Human Rights held discussions in a virtual meeting with the National Electoral Commission to jointly review the local elections scheduled for February and March 2021. The two commissions held discussions in accordance with the provisions of the Law N ° 19/2013 of 25/03/2013 determining the responsibilities, structure and functioning of the Commission as amended by Law N ° 61/2018 of 24/08/2018, in its Article 6, section 5 °, which gives the Commission its special mandate to monitor the respect for human rights throughout elections process and submit reports to relevant organs.
The forthcoming elections to be held will be for local authorities and the members of the Executive Councils of different National Councils as per the schedule of the elections, have been announced by the National Electoral Commission on January 14, 2021.
During the meeting, the two sides jointly reviewed how the recommendations issued by the Commission on the recent elections were implemented by the National Electoral Commission; how the rights of candidates and voters in their various categories are taken into account in the preparation of elections; the prevention of human rights abuses committed in elections based on the preparation of documents containing laws and regulations or its implementation; how human rights in elections will be respected during COVID-19; established procedures for receiving foreign observers during the current COVID-19 period; and a piece of advice to the National Electoral Commission on key elements to be considered so as to respect human rights during elections.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) briefed the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) on the preparations for the elections and the measures it has taken to ensure that the electoral process is carried out in a manner that respects the rights of each electorate, in the strict respect of measures of protection against COVID-19. Those are like pregnant and lactating parents, elderly and the disabled and people with various disabilities, especially people with visual impairments. Each category will be held in accordance with the measures taken by the National Electoral Commission to facilitate the election without hindrance or delay at the polling station.
The National Commission for Human Rights welcomed the good discussions held with the National Electoral Commission and was pleased by the comments on the issues it raised. Both institutions were pleased with the good relations that always characterize them as public oversight bodies which help citizens to implement their responsibilities of playing a role in the governance of the country. Both Commissions called on Rwandans to participate in the upcoming elections and to focus more on strategies to prevent and fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is expected that the election at the Village and Cell levels will be by lining up behind candidates, while for Sector and District levels they will be by secret ballot. Normally, local government officials from District to Village level have a five-year term for a maximum of two mandates. The grassroots elections include those of advisory councils from the Cell level to the District level. The Advisory Council then elects the Executive Committee members at the District level.
The National Commission for Human Rights monitors various stages including pre-election, its preparations and howhuman rights are respected during the campaign of candidates; it monitors the proper elections overseeing the respect of rights of the candidates and the electorate; the final monitoring of the elections by observing the respect of rights of the candidates and the electorate, especially in the publishing of the vote results and whenever there is an appeal. The various local elections will be held from February 20 to March 19, 2021.
The results of the general election will be announced on March 23, 2021, and the preparation and reporting of the final results of the election will be by April 20, 2021.