EC spells out code of conduct for observers

Electoral Commission (EC)
Electoral Commission (EC)

The Electoral Commission on Tuesday outlined a set of principles to guide the conduct of both Domestic and International Election 2020 observers.

“These principles have been endorsed by various inter-governmental and international organisations and are drawn from the African Union principles, ECOWAS guidelines and Declaration of principles for international observers,” Dr Bossman Eric Asare, EC Deputy Chairman in-charge of Corporate Services, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra.

Dr Asare, speaking on the “2020 Guidelines for Election Observation,” charged the observers to respect the sovereignty of the Ghanaian people to establish their own government as well as the fundamental rights contained in the Constitution.

He said those rights enabled citizens of Ghana to vote and be voted for, and urged the observers to respect the laws of the host country and the authority of the bodies charged with administering the electoral process.

“Observers must follow lawful instructions from the country’s governmental bodies, security, and electoral officials and must maintain respectful attitude towards electoral officials and national authorities,” he said.

Dr Asare said observers must as well attend all EC briefings when invited, familiarize with the relevant laws and transmit information from briefings by carefully adhering to the methodologies employed by their Observer Missions.

Observers must report to the leadership of their organisations any conflict of interests or improper conduct by any other observer who was part of their mission, he said.

“For this purpose, conflict of interest arises when the observer is unable to maintain impartiality ….,” Dr Asare explained.

He urged them to undertake their duties in an unobtrusive manner and avoid interfering in the electoral process.

“An observer’s conclusions should not be drawn from speculations, hearsay or exclusively from media or internet based report that have not been verified. He or she must base conclusions on personal observation and convincing facts,” Dr Asare said.

He said at all times, observers must exercise sound judgement and display a high level of personal discretion.

Observers must not accept any gift or favours that might influence their work, and must not take any unnecessary or undue risks.

“Each Observer is responsible for his or her personal safety and security, which must override all other considerations,” he said.

Dr Asare said observers did not enjoy immunity from prosecution or criminal responsibility for electoral offences or any offences recognised under the laws of the Republic of Ghana.

“The Observer shall not prejudge the election outcomes; and must refrain from making any personal comments to the media on what they observed during elections before the Election Observation Mission makes their statement,” he said.

Dr Bossman Asare said any observer who flouted those guidelines may have his or her accreditation cancelled and in the case of an act that constituted an offence under the Ghanaian laws, such a person may be prosecuted.

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