AUGUST RACE

MAKODINGO: Enhancing electoral justice for free, fair elections

IEBC officials could also be held liable for committing electoral offences.

In Summary

•Electoral justice guarantees free, fair, credible and accountable elections that meet the expectations of all.

•Not to be left being, social media platforms can indeed be used to commit election offences as well. 

Kenya will go to the polls on August 9, 2022.
Kenya will go to the polls on August 9, 2022.
Image: THE STAR ILLUSTRATION

For over three decades, the one thing that has come closest to tearing our national fabric has been issues around electoral justice.

Wars have been fought between communities and even clans every election cycle, thousands killed and many more maimed with over a million displaced.

Families have turned on each other and called one another traitors for not supporting their own kind. Even unfounded perceptions about electoral injustice can light the fires and lead to deaths.

That is why the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has established a Thematic Department to just deal swiftly with issues around electoral justice and ensure no repeat of previous years’ experiences.

Electoral justice refers to the mechanisms put in place to ensure that election processes follow the law in order to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections.

Electoral justice guarantees free, fair, credible and accountable elections that meet the expectations of all, especially candidates and their supporters.

 That said, there are several offences that could be committed during an election cycle that would make it impossible to ensure electoral justice.

Some of them include; registering as a voter more than once, voting more than once, giving or receiving a bribe, use of force, chaos, violence (including sexual violence) or threats to influence the outcome of an election, using a fictitious name or identity card to vote, impersonating an election official, use of public resources to campaign and use of force to compel a person to support a particular candidate or political party.

There are also offences related to the voting day itself. These include; destruction of election materials such as ballot boxes, being in possession of election material such as ballot papers without authority, putting anything in a ballot box other than a ballot paper and willfully preventing someone from voting.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials could also be held liable, for individually committing electoral offences.

These include; making false entries into records and documents, failing to count any ballot paper which has been validly cast, counting a ballot paper which has not been validly cast, failing to report or to prevent the commission of an election offence, interfering with a voter in the casting of their vote, willfully failing to declare the results of an election, colluding with a political party or candidate to give undue advantage to a particular candidate or political party, and knowingly permitting persons who are not disabled to vote in a manner provided for persons living with a disability.

Not to be left being, social media platforms can indeed be used to commit election offences as well.

Offences may be committed through social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat or any other social media platform. These may include offences relating to Hate speech, Incitement to violence, Ethnic hatred, Cyber terrorism, Online fraud, Cyber bullying and Impersonation (in an election, impersonation may include a person pretending to be a police officer or an election official for purposes of committing a crime).

It is very clear that anyone can commit an election offence and should be held individually responsible. These include members of the public, public officers,

Police officers, aspirants for political office, organizations, agents, election officials and others.

Some of the roles of the prosecutors in these cases are to receive complaints on an election offence, direct investigative agencies to conduct investigations, make the decision to charge, prosecute election offences in court, protect the rights of accused persons, victims and witnesses, consider alternatives to prosecution such as Diversion, and work closely with other agencies like the IEBC, police, Witness Protection Agency (WPA), Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and Judiciary to promote justice during elections.

Your role as a voter is to cast your vote peacefully, refrain from violence or any election malpractice and report any election-related offences to the National Police Service (NPS), IEBC Offices, and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

Anyone can report an election offence to any police station, IEBC Office or ODPP’s Office countrywide where the offence was committed. ODPP has offices in all 47 counties.

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