National Lawyers Guild calls for Independent Investigation
(NEW YORK, November 24, 2015) – A new report by international election observers concludes that Haiti’s October 25, 2015 presidential and legislative elections fell far short of minimum standards for fair elections, and calls for an independent investigation to address widespread allegations of fraud. “Haiti’s next government will lack the democratic legitimacy necessary to govern if the deep flaws in Haiti’s October 25 elections are not corrected,” warns Nicole Phillips, one of the report’s authors.
The October 25 vote was less violent than the first round of legislative elections of August 9, 2015, but suffered from a number of serious problems, including low turnout, voting fraud and a lack of transparency in the vote tabulation process, according to the report. Observers witnessed the widespread use of observer and political party accreditations to cast multiple fraudulent votes, which potentially tainted election results. The international observers were part of a delegation from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), which spent two weeks in Haiti prior to the vote and observed the October 25 electoral process at 15 voting centers in the greater Port-au-Prince region.
“A thorough investigation into allegations of fraud by a credible and independent commission is essential to determining the scale of the fraud and restoring Haitians’ faith in the electoral process” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, based in Port-au-Prince, and a member of the IADL’s governing Bureau. A recent survey by the Igarapé Institute found that nearly 90 percent of Haitian voters felt that the October 25 elections had been tainted by fraud. According to Attorney Joseph, “the current government under President Michel Martelly is not capable of holding democratic elections. A transitional government is necessary to properly investigate fraud allegations and hold new, fair elections.”
The report recommends that political parties, candidates and other individuals implicated in election-related violence and fraud be held accountable. Many perpetrators of electoral abuses on August 9 were never sanctioned and participated in the second-round legislative elections on October 25, the report documents. “The Haitian government must end the impunity for electoral abuses that currently reigns,” Joseph said. “Haitians will not accept a government that is the product of fraud, violence and intimidation at the polls.” Political parties and pro-democracy grassroots organizations have protested the tainted results since they were announced, through increasingly large demonstrations.
The report calls on the international community to support the Haitian people’s demands for fair and democratic elections, while refraining from interfering in ways that threaten Haiti’s sovereignty. “The international community has so far closed its eyes to the glaring instances of fraud that occurred on October 25,” Phillips said. “The Martelly government believes it can get away with fraud-tainted elections because it has the support of the international community.” The U.S. and the OAS quickly endorsed the elections after October 25 and called for the electoral process to go forward.
Phillips, a member of the NLG’s Haiti Subcommittee, urged the U.S. government, which has contributed $25 million to Haiti’s elections so far, to publicly link continued financial support to free and fair elections. International donors have committed $38 million to the electoral process and played a key role in organizing the vote.
Download the report: NLG – IADL Report on Haiti’s October 25 Elections