Open Letter: The electoral process operating in Dominica

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To: Heads of government of CARICOM and the OECS Secretary General CARICOM
The Commonwealth Secretariat
General Secretary, Organization of American States Transparency International
Secretary General, United Nations Amnesty International
The President, Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) The President, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court International Monetary Fund (IMF)
World Bank
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Carter Center
Clinton Foundation
French Embassy, Castries St. Lucia High Commission, Bridgetown Barbados
United States Embassy, Bridgetown Barbados
Canadian High Commission, Port of Spain Trinidad & Tobago Excellencies,

Re: Help save Dominica’s democracy

The Concern Citizens Movement is a registered non-political organization founded in February of 2014 because some citizens were appalled at the blatant irregularities taking place ahead of the upcoming general election of that year. Many people in the Commonwealth of Dominica now believe that the 2014 general election was so unfair that it has severely undermined the Democratic process.

For the last three general elections of 2005, 2009 and 2014, the ruling Dominica Labour Party government has manipulated the electoral process to their advantage to the extent that observers from both the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organization of American States (OAS) have made recommendations for electoral reform in their subsequent reports of findings. (See link to reports).a) OAS Observation Mission b) Commonwealth Observer Mission

The observers concluded that though the general elections appeared to be free, they were not fair.

Calls by the citizens of Dominica for electoral reform have gone unheeded. With the remaining eighteen months, when the next general elections are constitutionally due, the Concern Citizens Movement is apprehensive that the Commonwealth of Dominica will be subjected to another electoral process that will fall short of acceptable international standards and violate the rights of the Dominican people for free and fair elections.

The dominant concerns are:

1. According to information received from the Electoral Office the September 2018 voters list revealed a total number of 70,645 electors whereas the last census showed a population of 71,293, which implies that 99.09% of the population can vote, notwithstanding the fact that the voting age is 18 years.

2. The electoral laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica make provision for Dominicans living outside the island for less than five years to be able to vote in Dominica. However, the voters list has not been cleansed for more than twenty years. Accordingly, for the last three consecutive elections, this bloated list has allowed the Dominica Labour Party lead government to violate the electoral laws of the country and import ineligible voters whose names are still on the electors list.

3. The key recommendations are cleansing of the electoral list, identification cards for voting, equal access to the media, campaign finance reforms in addition to the disclosure of the source of funds for political campaigns.

4. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission is supposed to be independent amid two Government and two Opposition nominated members. This Chairman’s record indicates that he advances the agenda of the ruling Labour Party. His status as a passport agent under the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) program compromises his objective performance of the work of the Commission.

As a civil society organization, the Concern Citizens Movement is fully aware of the sentiment of unfairness, injustice and frustration expressed by many who feel that their Government is interfering with the Electoral Commission, a Constitutionally Mandated Independent Body.

Therefore, we respectfully request, that in line with one of your organization’s key focus of promoting democracy and good governance, a Special Mission be mounted to Dominica to evaluate and assess the situation and make recommendations to the Government and Electoral Commission to mitigate the potential conflict risk that can emerge with the present situation. The Government must allow the Electoral Commission to do its work in order to facilitate free and fair elections as required by the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the Concern Citizens Movement will mobilize all forces. This will include the local communities, nationally, regionally and internationally to prevent any further abuse of the electoral process by the Dominica Labour Party Government.

We trust that our legitimate concerns for free and fair elections, peace and tranquility in our homeland will meet your favorable consideration and lead you to visit Dominica to have a firsthand view of the situation as it currently exists.
In the spirit of true democracy, as a representative body of the Dominican citizenry, we anticipate an acknowledgement and response to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Loftus Durand
Concern Citizens Movement President

Copied to:
His Excellency Mr. Charles Saverin
Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit
The Electoral Commission
United Workers Party
Dominica Labour Party
Churches
Trade Unions
National Youth Council Private Sector
Women and civil society
The Press

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