Statement of Solidarity with NEW in Sierra Leone
The Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) stands in solidarity with the citizen election observation organisation and GNDEM member National Elections Watch (NEW) in Sierra Leone and condemns any effort to interfere with their efforts to observe the 2023 general elections.
NEW successfully conducted a Process and Results Verification for Transparency (PRVT) for the June 24, 2023 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections to increase transparency of the electoral process and to defend the rights of citizens to vote. NEW has released their observation findings for the presidential election that projected no candidate had met the required constitutional threshold of 55 percent and, thus, a runoff presidential election is required.
In accordance with the Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations, NEW employed the most systematic and precise methodologies to produce their observation findings and conclusions, as accurately, impartially, and timely as possible. GNDEM stands with NEW and has confidence in their methodology.
GNDEM condemns the actions of political parties who have issued statements attacking NEW, as well as the intimidation, harassment and physical violence against several NEW observers on election day. These actions seek to undermine independent, nonpartisan citizen election observation and violate the rights of election observers. United Nations Special Rapporteurs have explicitly recognized that election observers, including citizen observers, are human rights defenders. As such, “[m]ember States are urged to take all necessary steps to establish conditions that allow national and international election observers to effectively do their work, and to protect them from any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of their rights and freedoms.”
As Sierra Leone awaits the final announcement of the election results by the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL), we urge the Sierra Leonean authorities to take all steps possible to ensure the safety of citizen observer organisations, including NEW’s observers and leadership. Moreover, GNDEM condemns all forms of threats, harassment, intimidation, or acts of violence against election observers. GNDEM stands in solidarity with NEW and all non-partisan citizen election observers who face these threats against their right to observe elections and defend the right of citizens to vote.