Statement
1 June 2015 - 2:00pm

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION
BRITISH ISLANDS AND MEDITERRANEAN REGION
ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION VIRGIN ISLANDS (UK)
1 JUNE 2015
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT – INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE

In May 2015 the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands and Mediterranean Region (CPA BIMR) were officially invited by The Governor, His Excellency John S. Duncan OBE to deploy an Election Observation Mission to the Virgin Islands (UK) to observe the June general elections. This invitation was supported by the Government and the official Opposition.

The Mission is composed of;

  • Hon. Stephen (Steve) Rodan SHK, Speaker of the House of Keys (Isle of  Man) - Head of Mission
  • Hon. Ruth Blackman MP (Turks & Caicos Islands) - Observer
  • Hon. Dr Winston Green MP (Jamaica) - Observer
  • Matthew Salik (UK)- Election Analyst/Observer
  • Ellen Shustik (Canada)- Election Analyst/Observer
  • Rachael Atkins (UK) - Election Coordinator/Observer 

Election Observation Missions (EOMs) are today widely recognised across the World as a useful source of independently and impartially assessing the electoral process and making sure it is conducted fairly. Elections are an important requisite for democratic governance because it’s through elections that people choose who will govern in their name. Impartial observation is also an important aspect of human rights monitoring.  Missions like ours contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions and add integrity to the electoral process. This is all about enhancing public confidence and deterring fraud.  The fact that our Mission enjoys broad support right across the political spectrum shows that the Virgin Islands is willing to open itself to such external assessment. This is very commendable.

The team will be in-country from the 30 May until the 10 June 2015. The Mission will be guided by the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers, adopted by international bodies involved in election observation at the United Nations in October 2005. The Mission will observe all aspects of the electoral process in accordance with international standards, including the Virgin Islands’ (UK) commitments under international law as well as domestic legislation. The Mission will gather information and then make an informed judgement.  We may raise questions with election officials and may bring to their attention any irregularities if and when the need arises, but will not interfere in any way in the electoral process itself. As observers we will strictly adhere to the CPA BIMR Code of Conduct and will be autonomous, impartial and independent in our observation and judgement of the election. The interest and focus of the Mission is only on the electoral process and not on political issues or the political outcome.  In our final report, the Mission may offer recommendations with the aim of improving future elections. We are here to support democracy in the Virgin Islands.

Throughout our mission we will meet with election officials, people representing political parties including candidates themselves, civil society, the media and others involved in the election. Our assessment will consider the entire electoral process, including the legal framework, the election administration, the campaign, the media, polling and counting, and complaints and appeals. We will also consider gender equality and minority issues. In the closing stages of the campaign we will be looking closely at the respect given to the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association, movement and information. On Election Day we will observe the process at polling stations including the opening and closing procedures. We will also observe the counting and tabulation of results and what happens in the immediate post-election period.  We will look at the complaints and appeals system and follow the handling of any that may arise.

The Mission will issue a Preliminary Report on Wednesday 10 June, which will highlight key findings to date and make a preliminary assessment of the electoral process. Within two months of the election, the Mission will publish its Final Report, which will provide an overall assessment of the electoral process and may include recommendations for future elections in the Virgin Islands.

The Mission would like to thank His Excellency the Governor for his invitation and for the support of his good offices. We would like to thank the Government and Opposition for supporting the invitation and the Electoral Office for their cordiality and cooperation. 

Finally, any member of the public or media who would like to make contact with the Mission, can do so through email at bvi.eom@gmail.com

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