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Samoa's NHRI highlights right to free and fair elections

Graphic: Apia, Samoa

The Office of the Ombudsman in Samoa has drawn attention to issues of concern regarding the country’s upcoming general election.

The Office of the Ombudsman in Samoa has drawn attention to issues of concern in regard to the individual's right to properly participate in the country's general election on 9 April.

Some of these issues include village council activities that may be discriminatory or coercive and concerns that campaign committees are influencing voters' preference by unscrupulous means, including bribery.

These activities impact upon the right of voters to choose who they want to represent them in public office. The Office has taken the opportunity to remind citizens that their right to participate in the conduct of public affairs, including the right to vote and to stand for elections, is at the core of democratic governance.

Genuine elections are a necessary and fundamental component of an environment that protects and promotes the human rights of all.

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives. This right is elaborated further in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Samoa is a party.

Free and fair elections facilitate the exercise of other associated citizen rights including freedom of opinion (Art 19(1) ICCPR) which allows for the authentic assertion of popular will, and also freedom of expression and information (Art 19(2) ICCPR) which enables citizens to express partisan ideas and political will.

Samoa's Constitution reflects and protects these rights to ensure that citizens are able to live and participate freely and fully in the democratic society that is Samoa.

The Office of the Ombudsman's full media release is available here.

Date: 1 March 2021

Source: Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa

Image credits

  1. Apia, Samoa - Image by Ramunas on Adobe Stock