Kosovo Diaspora NGO Slates Court Ruling on Late Postal Votes

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A person casts his vote at a polling station in the course of the early parliamentary elections in Pristina, Kosovo, October 6, 2019. Picture: EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

An NGO that connects members of the massive Kosovo diaspora condemned a call of the Kosovo Constitutional Court docket that annulled a former Supreme Court docket ruling that allowed diaspora postal votes that arrived after the deadline to be counted. Parliamentary elections have been final held in Kosovo on 6 October 2019.

On Thursday, the courtroom dominated {that a} Supreme Court docket determination of October 30, 2019, that allowed the counting of the votes of diaspora that arrived by publish after the deadline, was unconstitutional.

“The Constitutional Court docket, just like the ECAP [Election Complaints and Appeals Panel] in the course of the 2019 elections, a priori rejects votes obtained after the deadline set by the CEC [Central Election Committee] whatever the circumstances that brought on the delay,” Lirim Krasniqi, co-executive director of Germin, informed BIRN, summing up the ruling.

The Constitutional Court docket mentioned the Supreme Court docket ruling had violated Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Conference on Human Rights, on the appropriate to vote, in addition to Article 45 of the Kosovo Structure, on freedom of election and participation.

“State establishments assist the potential of each particular person collaborating in public actions and everybody’s proper to democratically affect choices of public our bodies,” Article 45 of the Structure writes.

The courtroom additionally dominated that the ECAP determination to not rely diaspora votes that arrived by publish after the deadline was consistent with the European Conference of Human Rights and the Kosovo structure.

Krasniqi, nevertheless, mentioned the legislation on elections ought to now be modified, “particularly the articles referring to voting from overseas”.

“Residents of Kosovo overseas ought to give you the option, in addition to voting by mail, to vote bodily in diplomatic missions,” he mentioned.

He added that one other option to velocity up voting by publish can be “to open mailboxes in diplomatic missions, which then ahead the envelopes with the poll papers to the CEC by means of the diplomatic mail”.

Krasniqi mentioned it was unfair to offer individuals within the diaspora solely 17 days to solid ballots, “regardless of how far they reside in Kosovo”.

He additionally cited delays and violations to the “means of receiving the envelopes from the Postal Transit Middle after which forwarding them to the CEC Publish Workplace”.

These included not stamping “with incoming date stamps any of the 6,455 envelopes with poll papers which can be speculated to have arrived after the deadline set by the CEC”.

Primarily based on their very own monitoring of the method, Germin concludes that many diaspora members posted their ballots “at the least 10 days earlier than the deadline”, just for them to “fail to reach throughout the deadline on account of goal causes of the postal companies”.

Former justice minister from the most important opposition get together, Vetevendosje, Albulena Haxhia, on Thursday criticised the Constitutional Court docket determination, saying it implied that diaspora members are obliged to come back to Kosovo to vote in particular person, which violated their rights.

However Fatmir Limaj chief of the junior governing Social Democratic Initiative, NISMA, which solely gained simply sufficient votes to enter parliament, and despatched the Supreme Court docket determination to the Constitutional Court docket, hailed Thursday’s determination as a return to legality in vote counting.

BIRN has reported earlier than on the various obstacles Kosovo diaspora members face in casting ballots for parliamentary elections.

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