Saturday 25 March 2023

A Bahraini woman casts her vote during a by-election,
at a voting station. Photo: Reuters

Bahrain to field teams against election breaches

MANAMA, September 28, 2014

Bahrain will field teams of monitors trained to expose and root out bribery, harassment and other forms of electoral fraud ahead of the parliamentary and municipal elections, set to be held on November 22.

Bahrain's main rights watchdog the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) wants to train 150 election monitors alone, while other non-governmental organisations have also announced their plans to have observers in place, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

"We have plans to train 150 men and women for the upcoming elections," NIHR president Dr Abdulaziz Abul told the GDN.

"They will register different violations such as attempts by candidates to bribe voters and offences committed during election campaigns."

Dr Abul said that his institution, which has helped monitor Bahrain's previous elections, was in contact with the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry to secure the required permissions for its monitors.

Violations highlighted by the NIHR in its report on the 2010 elections include vandalisation of campaign billboards, making of threatening phone calls and sending of intimidating text messages, use of children to campaign on behalf of candidates outside polling stations and harassment of veiled women who were trying to cast their vote.

A new report highlighting the institution's findings and recommendations will be produced following this year's polls, Dr Abul added.

Meanwhile, independent activist Salman Naser told the GDN that he was forming his own team of observers, in co-ordination with a rights group that has not officially announced its participation yet.

"We will have a team of 70 people who will be working round the clock before and during elections," he said.

"In addition to volunteers on the ground, there will also be an 'e-team' who will monitor social media for any content that incites hatred or violates the law."

Naser said that his group plans to hold training programmes at Bahrain University, in a bid to recruit more young people with experience in the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

On Wednesday Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa announced that all media - both local and foreign - were welcome to cover Bahrain's elections, but stressed that only local observers from civil societies would be allowed to monitor the polls as it was an "internal matter".

According to election rules, monitors must be Bahraini and have no criminal record or political affiliation.

Identity cards will be issued to all monitors nominated by non-governmental organisations and human rights groups so that they can conduct their work.

The GDN reported last month that the Bahrain Transparency Society had announced its own plans to monitor the upcoming polls, calling on authorities to release the electoral rolls in full prior to the election date. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Human rights | National elections |

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