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Photo: Elections in Nampula, Mozambique
Ombudsman Isac Chande welcomed a request from 15 Mozambican civil society organisations defending inmate’s right to vote.
Mozambique’s Ombudsman, Isac Chande, has recommended that the President of the National Election Commission (CNE) and the Director General of the National Penitentiary Service (SERNAP) take all necessary measures to redress the illegality resulting from denying inmates the right to vote.
Responding to a request from 15 civil society organisations, led by REFORMAR, the Ombudsman also recommended that legal mechanisms be set up by the government and other authorities to see that inmates are henceforth included in the voting process.
“Clearly we welcome it positively. I think it’s a big win,” said Tina Lorizzo, the director of REFORMAR, which works in the areas of academic research, training and human rights advocacy related to criminal justice.
20,000 inmates will not vote this year
According to the 15 civil society organisations signatories to the letter, “the Mozambican Constitution establishes that no penalty implies the loss of any civil, professional or political rights”. But “the 20,000 inmates across the country will not vote, in practice”.
Thousands of prisoners are known to be being detained illegally, long after statutory pre-trial detention periods haver passed.
Lorizzo, told DW Africa that the national and international legal frameworks guarantee every citizen the right to vote.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and also the Nelson Mandela Rules, which are more specific about the treatment of prisoners, indicate that the prison, penitentiary area should limit as much as possible the distance between life inside the prison and in society. Furthermore, at the domestic level we have seen how the new electoral package eliminated the limitation by which convicted offenders were being excluded [from voter registration and voting] up until 2014.”
Measure effective in the next electoral processes only
Civil society wanted prisoners to begin voting from the general and provincial elections scheduled for October 15, but the Ombudsman recommends that the measure be applied in future elections, saying it is no longer possible to action this year.
The electoral process is under way and the voter registration, the necessary condition for any citizen to vote, has already been completed.
According to the director of REFORMAR, “we clearly understand that for this to happen, the necessary steps must be taken so that it in fact happens”.Source: Deutsche Welle
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