MISSION CANADA UKRAINE REPEAT
For the October 2012 Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine, Mission Canada deployed 422 observers, 65 of whom were long-term observers (LTOs). Mission Canada was thus able to monitor the entire electoral process leading up to the elections, as well as Election Day itself, and the immediate post-election period, until the official announcement of results by the Central Election Commission of Ukraine (CEC).
Mission Canada presented two interim reports, covering the pre-election period, a preliminary final report, the day after Election Day, and a Final Report, presented to the Government of Canada in March 2013. Mission Canada concluded that taking into account its interim reports, the findings of Election Day, and the subsequent problems in transfer of results and tabulation of data – Ukraine’s parliamentary elections fell short of meeting international standards, and that these elections marked a regression in Ukraine’s democratic development.
In 5 single-mandate districts (SMDs), irregularities and violations were of such magnitude that the CEC was unable to establish results. On 5 September 2013, the Law of Ukraine N 457-VII "On Repeat Elections of Peoples' Deputies in the Single-Mandate Districts No. 94, 132, 194, 197, 223" was signed by Ukraine's President. The legislation established repeat elections in the five SMDs . The repeat election will be held on 15 December. The five districts in question represent over 700,000 voters, who have for over a year effectively been deprived of their right to representation in Ukraine's parliament.
MISSION CANADA - SCOPE AND MANDATE
Canada has deployed a team of 26 Canadian election observers to monitor the five repeat elections in Ukraine. Six observers arrived during the week of November 30th to monitor the immediate pre-election period in the five districts. They have been joined by the rest of the observers this week, including three Members of Canada's Parliament - Ted Opitz, Russ Hiebert and the Hon. Stéphane Dion. Mission Canada will monitor the elections in all five districts in question.
The Canadian election observation mission is being sponsored by the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), and mounted by CANADEM, a Canadian non-profit democracy promotion agency.
The mandate of Mission Canada is to observe, record and report on whether the election genuinely reflects the democratic expression of the voters in the five districts. The election observers are charged with observing, recording and reporting on the election according to established international standards and best practices, while in no way interfering with or intervening in the electoral process.
Click here for a pdf version of this Interim report in French.
Click here for a pdf version of this Interim report in Ukrainian.
INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR ELECTIONS
For elections to genuinely and fully reflect the will of the people, a number of key international standards must be met. These standards are: - a sound and fair legislative framework;
- universal and equal suffrage;
- impartial and transparent election administration;
- a level playing field for all contestants in the campaign;
- an election process free of pressure and coercion;
- an independent media and balanced coverage;
- access to effective remedy for violation of electoral rights;
- a secret ballot;
- a voting and counting process free of manipulation that accurately reflects voters' intent.
These standards are also essential to ensuring the trust and confidence of the electorate in the election process. Mission Canada uses these standards to assess the election process.
The Law of Ukraine On the Election of People's Deputies and the Law of Ukraine On Repeat Elections of Peoples' Deputies in the Single-Mandate Districts No. 94, 132, 194, 197, 223 governs international election observation of the 15 December elections. Article 79 of the Law On the Election of People's Deputies states that international observers shall be entitled to:
- be present at the meetings of MP candidates or parties’ authorized persons with voters, at election campaign meetings, rallies, and meetings of election commissions;
- familiarize himself or herself with the election campaigning materials;
- be present at the election precincts during the voting and observe the actions of the election commission members, in particular during the issuance of ballot papers to voters and vote counting, without physically obstructing the election commission members;
- make photographic, film, audio and video recordings, without violating the secrecy of voting;
- publicly express proposals, after the end of the election, relating to the organization of the parliamentary elections and improving the legislation of Ukraine, taking into consideration the international experience;
- hold press-conferences in accordance with the requirements of the laws of Ukraine;
- together with other observers from foreign states or international organizations, create temporary groups of official observers for coordination of their activities within the scope of their powers specified by this Law, notifying the Central Election Commission thereof within one day;
- official observers from foreign states or international organizations shall perform observations autonomously and independently.
Paragraph 4 of the Law On Repeat Elections of Peoples' Deputies in the Single-Mandate Districts No. 94, 132, 194, 197, 223 states Official observers from foreign states or international organizations have the rights, outlined in the Law of Ukraine On the Election of Peoples' Deputies of Ukraine, and also have the right to obtain copies of the protocols on the obtainment by the District Election Commission of ballots, the distribution to the Precinct Election Commission of ballots, the vote count, and the establishment of the results of voting and the repeat count of ballots.
Mission Canada welcomes the decision to expand the rights of international election observers for the repeat election.
POLITICAL CONTEXT OF THE REPEAT ELECTION
The repeat election is taking place in the context of a highly-charged political atmosphere. Mission Canada supports the Ukrainian peoples' right to free speech and peaceful assembly, which the Ukrainian people and the international community hold to be fundamental human rights. Mission Canada will continue to pay particular attention to any undue effects of the civil unrest situation upon the execution of elections in these five districts.
Mission Canada is especially concerned with the practice of continuing prohibition of peaceful assemblies in Ukraine. In particular, in the last six weeks the courts issued a number of decisions on general prohibition of peaceful assemblies in Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Nikopol, Cherkasy and Kremenchuk. According to the Constitution of Ukraine this could be the prerogative only of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which is the sole legislative body in the country.
The Mission also notes that the domestic courts continue misinterpreting the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine as regards the notification of the state authorities or local governments on conduction of mass events. Despite the fact that the Constitution mentions only the obligation to make such a notification “in advance” and it has direct effect, the District Administrative Court of Kyiv City in its judgment of November 30, 2013 relied on the Decision of Kyiv City Council of June 24, 1999 which provided for the term of 10 days. The right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are indelible parts of a democratic electoral process.
The repeat elections in Ukraine are principally governed by the Constitution of Ukraine, the Laws of Ukraine On Repeat Elections of Peoples' Deputies in the Single-Mandate Districts No. 94, 132, 194, 197, 223, On Election of Peoples’ Deputies, On the Central Election Commission, On the State Voter Register, the Code on Administrative Adjudication, the Criminal Code, the Administrative Offences Code, and resolutions of the Central Election Commission (CEC). The Constitution guarantees all fundamental rights and freedoms necessary for the conduct of democratic elections. The common practice in Ukraine of proxy voting in parliament is unconstitutional, and therefore illegitimates the country’s legislative framework. A draft Law On Changes to Particular Laws of Ukraine on Improvement of Legislation on the Holding of Elections was adopted by Parliament last month, but has not been signed by the President.