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2018 Nov
26

Statement on “Fake” Observational Missions

The goal of observational missions undertaken by non-governmental organizations during elections is the collection of reliable information on election processes and publication of independent statements. It is of utmost importance for observational missions to be neutral and impartial, free from propaganda or anti-propaganda in favor of or against any party/alliance or candidate participating in elections.

A serious threat to impartial and effective observation of elections are politically motivated or so called “fake” observation missions – both local and international. As a rule, such groups do not have any methodology for election observation and presence of their observers in polling stations bears mainly formal character. Such missions usually do not publish reports and factual data on election processes and election violations and their announcements are mainly political and serve the interests of political forces.

For the observation of RA National Assembly elections on December 9, 2018, RA Central Election Commission received applications from 8 organizations, as of November 24, 2018, 4 out of which - “Chamber of United Leaders” NGO, “Proportional development” of community development NGO, “Competent” NGO and “Pan-Armenian Youth Association” NGO - intended to accredit more than 5 000 members each, totaling approximately 21 600 observers. “Hetq”’s investigation has revealed that all above mentioned organizations are interconnected to the “Prosperous Armenia” party (PAP). Mainly, it has found out that:

  • “Pan-Armenian Youth Association” NGO was chaired by Vahe Enfiajyan, National Assembly member representing “Tsarukyan Alliance” faction and currently a candidate from PAP. Due to “Hetq” warnings the accreditation application of this NGO was rejected by CEC, as it was revealed that its activity was suspended a year ago and false documentations were represented to CEC.
  • According to “Hetq” information the founder of “Competent” human rights defender NGO is Nona Vrej Otayan, another candidate from PAP. The application of “Competent” NGO was removed from the list of observer organizations available in the CEC website on November 26, 2018.
  • Lianna Manoukyan, leader of “Chamber of United Leaders” NGO is a PAP secretary of the RA Youth Parliament. The Facebook page of the NGO, as well as the page of its leader, actively promote PAP activities.
  • According to Facebook materials, Makar Yeghiazaryan, chairman of “Proportional development” of community development NGO is also connected with PAP, though no active propaganda has been observed neither from his side nor the organization.

It is worth stating that according to the part 1 of the article 30 of the RA Electoral Code “During elections the observation mission has the right…. 2. Non-governmental organizations of the Republic of Armenia… that do not support any candidates or parties participating in elections”.

Additional study undertaken by “Akanates” (Eyewitness) has shown that those organizations do not possess appropriate websites and it is difficult to collect sufficient information on their activities in relation to democracy and human rights, as well as observation missions during past elections.  Instead, it has revealed that in case of each organization names of at least 50 observers matched with names of observers included in the lists of other three organizations. Moreover, according to checks made by “Akanates”’, 20 observers enrolled in lists are unaware how their names appeared in those lists, which proves that at least a part of exaggerated lists was developed without proper notification of people listed there.

Taking into account the above mentioned, we express our concern over the engagement of politically partial observation missions during Parliamentary elections, as well as their possible assessments, and abuse and discreditation of the institute of observation in general.

Hereby, we call the RA Central Electoral Commission to monitor the propaganda initiated by organizations that have applied for observation mission and invalidate accreditation acts of non-governmental organizations carrying out propaganda in favor parties participating in elections. We also suggest the Commission to check the lists submitted by observation organizations for identification of possible duplications of names.

We call on political parties to avoid engaging “fake” observation missions and attempts to influence the proper electoral process, which may question their legitimacy as political forces representing public interests.  

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This mission is made possible by the financial support from the European Union, National Endowment for Democracy, United States Agency for International Development, National Democratic Institute and Open Society Foundations – Armenia.

The contents are responsibility of “Akanates” (Eyewitness) observation initiative and its member organizations and do not necessarily reflect the official views of donor organizations.