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UN concerned about impact of postponing Palestinian elections on freedom of expression and political participation 

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News briefing

Translated and Edited by: Committee for Justice

Geneva: September 20, 2021

A number of United Nations human rights experts confirmed the existence of a number of human rights concerns related to the postponement of the Palestinian legislative and presidential elections, as well as threats and attacks against a number of those known to oppose this postponement.

Fears of postponing the elections:

In a memorandum sent to the Palestinian Authority on July 22, 2021, which has not yet been answered, the experts said that the legislative and presidential elections were scheduled to take place in May and July 2021, respectively. The Palestinian president then announced the postponement of the elections due to fears that Israel would prevent Palestinians from voting in East Jerusalem. In this context, a number of threats and attacks were reported – mostly on physical property and homes – especially against those who were expressing their opposition to the postponement of these elections.

Excessive requirements for candidacy:

The experts also expressed concern about the instructions issued by the Central Election Committees, regarding the rules of eligibility for individuals and political lists who wish to participate in the Palestinian elections.

The experts explained that the committee stipulated in these requirements that each political list pay $20,000 in registration fees, and that candidates working in the public sector, international organizations and civil society must resign from their current jobs in order to run for elections, and that these requirements appear to create unjustified obstacles In front of ensuring the democratic process.

The impact of the postponement on freedom of expression and participation:

The experts stressed that the postponement of the elections has a potential impact on freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and participation, noting that these elections represent an important opportunity to strengthen the democratic process and build accountable institutions, especially given that the last elections took place in 2005.

At the same time, the experts emphasized that they do not underestimate the importance of holding free and fair democratic elections during an entrenched occupation, which is a challenge, noting the serious obstacles erected by Israel, the occupying power, to the smooth conduct of elections, especially in East Jerusalem.

International demands from the Palestinian Authority:

At the conclusion of their memorandum, the experts called on the Palestinian Authority to provide information on measures taken to protect the physical and psychological integrity of those who have expressed concerns about the postponement of the elections.

The experts also called on Palestine to provide additional explanations for the eligibility rules for those wishing to participate in the Palestinian elections and the extent to which the postponement of the elections affects the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and political participation, in accordance with Articles 19, 21, 22 and 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

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