Corner Press release

Elections 2016: First Interim Report 11 December 2016

During yesterday, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia noted a series of irregularities in the voting process of the diaspora as well as of specific groups of citizens who exercise their voting rights the day before the elections.

According to the Electoral Code, the day before the election is declared as an election silence. The silence was broken by several media and Internet portals which published information on unofficial election results on social networks. Such disclosures are considered attempts to manipulate voters by displaying alleged lead of a political party and thus possibly influencing voters before election night. The Helsinki Committee requires that SEC (Mac. ДИК) immediately initiates a proceeding that will determine whether the information has been published by the electoral committees of the polling stations and if so, it should act according to the Law to sanction those actions. In the village of Orman, cases of door-to-door distribution of promotional material on the day of the election silence have been noticed.

Furthermore, there were several cases of voters who are not registered in the poll books, i.e. in correctional institutions where, allegedly, 660 prisoners could not vote because they were not in the poll books. Also, there were unregistered voters in diplomatic and consular offices in Brussels, where about a hundred Macedonians of Roma ethnicity were not registered in the list and therefore could not vote. In Vienna, at least fifty persons were prevented from exercising their right to vote because they were not on the list, although they claim to have been duly registered at the embassy in Vienna.

In Demir Hisar and Kavadarci, there were documented cases of election bribery. Namely, after a tip-off by an observer from “Civil”, the police in Bitola caught people in the act of offering 1,000 MKD per vote in the villages of Brezovo, Zashle and Ilino. The observer recorded the event on video and a witness from Brezovo agreed to testify that he was offered a bribe. A case of attempted bribery was also registered in Kochani, where political party activists sought to obtain personal identifications of citizens in order to stop them from voting in exchange for a fee of 1,000 MKD. The MOI intervened and the case was reported with the Public Prosecutor. The Helsinki Committee urges to process offenders who are suspected of committing the crime of Bribery during elections and voting under Article 163 of the Criminal Code which envisages imprisonment from 1 to 5 years.

Particularly concerning is the event at the hospital in Prilep, where an authority pressured employees to vote for the ruling party, for which there is an audio recording and he can be heard saying the following: "None of you here have been employed because of your capabilities, but because you are party members. Let’s not cause any problems". The case was reported to the MOI and the Commission for Prevention of Corruption.

The Helsinki Committee has noted several cases of hate speech and incitement to violence on social networks. We appeal to citizens to refrain from such posts.

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