CIVIL’s Election Report #6 today was broadcast at 11.15 am. At the very beginning, the video “We Vote” was played, and then Xhabir Deralla “reported” on the election pressures, violation of Covid-19 protection protocols and the black campaign. At the end, outside the context of the election monitoring, Deralla pointed out that today is International Day of Non-Violence, for which the organization issued a special statement.
Election pressure is a crime
CIVIL’s monitoring so far notes only one case of election pressure, and that is the case with the head of an educational institution who sent and SMS message for mandatory presence at a rally of the Democratic Union for Integration. According to CIVIL’s source, those who did not have decisions for permanent employment were also under pressure. They were reminded that they need to prove themselves in order to keep their job.
Such pressure for attending a rally or participating in another type of activities of an election campaign can come under the criminal offense Exertion, in accordance to Article 139 of the Criminal Code, which states:
“Anyone who by force or serious threat forces another to do or not do something, will be punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to 1 year. If the criminal offence is committed by an official in performing the service, they will be punished with imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years”.
However, in criminal offenses against elections and voting, pressure is not anticipated as a criminal offence. The closest (but still different!) and in the past very frequent criminal offense, which for the then ruling structure was a regular practice during elections, is violation of the voter’s freedom of choice, Article 160 of the Criminal Code, which states:
“Anyone who with the use of force, serious threat or other manner will prevent or will force another to exercise, not exercise or how to exercise the right to vote, will be punished with at least 3 years of imprisonment”.
CIVIL’s recommendation to legislation is for criminal responsibility and harsh sanctions to be anticipated also for pressure of this kind in the Criminal Code, that is, to anticipate precise definitions and harsh sanctions in the new Electoral Code, for which creation the organization is advocating. Certainly, accompanied with the recommendation for legal amendments and adoption of the Electoral Code to be implemented and completed at least six months prior to the start of the election processes.
Disinformation and manipulations against the Soros Foundation and the City of Skopje
Several media outlets and profiles on the social networks published that the City of Skopje and the Soros Foundation had financed the scouts group that organized activities at a camp with high school students, where there is suspicion that there had been sexual abuse of minors.
The case was revealed by “Sloboden Pecat”, but it was abused by political entities and media close to them for denigrating the Soros Foundation and the City of Skopje, in a political and electoral context.
Black campaign is not quieting down
In terms of the black campaign, CIVIL’s monitoring team notes on a daily basis an exceptionally large number of cases in which there are insults, slanders, vulgarities, disinformation and hate speech. Profiles on the social networks are not holding back neither from calls for violence or execution, as well as from ultranationalist messages.
CIVIL demands from political parties to stop with the black propaganda, and for the relevant institutions and self-regulatory bodies to take appropriate steps to protect the legality and ethics in the election process. Let’s remind the political parties – they are signatories to the Code for Fair and Democratic Elections, as well as the media, which are committed to the Code of Journalists and the Charter for ethical reporting on the elections, so far signed by 80 media outlets – members of the Council of Media Ethics.
CIVIL’s Monitoring Team is preparing an extensive report on this phenomenon that will be published before the end of the campaign.
Violation of the Covid-19 protection protocols
CIVIL’s long-term observers visit public gatherings organized by political parties and independent candidates. During these visits to the events, the observers have noticed violation of protocols number 42 and 43 for protection against COVID-19 in most participants in the election race.
Hence, on October 1, violation of COVID-19 protocols 42 and 43 were noted in the public gathering of SDSM in the Municipality of Caska and at the gathering of VMRO-DPMNE in Bitola.
CIVIL reminds organizers, political parties and independent candidates to adhere to the COVID-19 protection protocols in holding events and indoor work. Violation of the protocols is punishable according to the law, and ethically extremely unacceptable, as it endangers the public health.
Out of context: International Day of Non-Violence
Finally, something completely different and very nice and positive: International Day of Non-Violence is celebrated on October 2, coinciding with the birthday of Mahatma Ghandi, leader of the India’s Independence and founder of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence
CIVIL’s message on the occasion of this important date is: Let’s create a society that fosters tolerance, mutual understanding and respect based on the principles of peace and non-violence!
Translation: N. Cvetkovska
This post is also available in: Macedonian