Carter Center: “Grant Non-Negro Citizenship, Gay Rights”

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In a spirit of respect and support, the Center’s observation mission identified several areas where steps can be taken to improve the conduct of future elections in Liberia, including promotion of the Political Rights of Participation of Women, Youth, Persons with Disabilities, LGBTI, and Ethnic and Religious Minorities

Among other recommendations for election reform in Liberia

The Carter Center (TCC) on Monday, December 10, released the final report from its observation mission of Liberia’s 2017 elections, outlining key findings and offering recommendations for reform to strengthen the country’s electoral process.

TCC’s international election observation reflects the Center’s long-term commitment to support democratic development and improve health in the country. The Center plans to remain engaged in Liberia, working with the current government, civil society organizations, the Liberian National Police, and community leaders to advance access to justice, access to information, and mental health.

Liberia’s 2017 presidential and House of Representatives elections were a historic milestone for the country, demonstrating Liberians’ commitment to peace and democratic development. The first round of elections on October 10 was orderly and transparent, despite long lines in some polling places, particularly in urban areas.

The electoral dispute-resolution process that followed the first round of voting posed an important test of Liberia’s resilience. While the fundamental rights of justice and access to an effective remedy were broadly respected, elements of Liberia’s electoral dispute-resolution system should be reviewed to avoid the potential for constitutional crises in the future. The presidential run-off election that took place on Dec. 26 was technically sound and demonstrated some improvements over the first round, including identification of voter’s polling places and a more efficient tabulation process.

In a spirit of respect and support, the Center’s observation mission identified several areas where steps can be taken to improve the conduct of future elections in the country, including promotion of the Political Rights of Participation of Women, Youth, Persons with Disabilities, LGBTI, and Ethnic and Religious Minorities.

Women’s political participation. The failure of Liberia’s legal framework and electoral process to bring women’s political participation in line with the country’s international commitments is one of the greatest weaknesses of Liberia’s democracy. Liberia’s legislature, electoral authorities, and other stakeholders should consider a range of steps to increase women’s participation in public affairs, including passing legislation to promote women’s political participation, increasing the number of women working in the administration of elections, waiving fees for female candidates, granting female candidates access to the media, and continuing to collect data on gender and minority representation (including continued use of the gender data capture sheet).

Political participation of minorities. In light of Liberia’s commitment under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure that no ethnic or religious groups are excluded from political participation, the Liberian constitution should continue to protect religious freedom and should not be weakened, including by amendments that would identify a preferred faith.

Removal of race-based citizenship. In future efforts on constitutional reform, consideration should be given to removing the race-based citizenship requirements.

Removal of criminalization of homosexuality and LGBTI political participation. In light of Liberia’s international commitments for non-discrimination, homosexual acts should be decriminalized and legislation should be brought in line with international commitments for equal opportunities.

The right to stand for election: property ownership, residency, and mental health. The qualifications for serving as a candidate that are listed in in Liberia’s constitution should be reviewed to determine whether they are overly restrictive and inconsistent with the ICCPR, including requirements of property ownership and references to mental health. Limitations on the right to stand for elections based on property ownership particularly impact women, as the legal framework does not guarantee spouses the right to joint ownership of property.

Review candidate registration requirements and fees. Liberia should review candidate registration requirements and fees to ensure that political participation rights are respected, and should remove onerous registration requirements for independent candidates.

Electoral Dispute Resolution: Right to Due Process and a Fair Trial

Review EDR system. Consideration should be given to ways to strengthen electoral dispute resolution in Liberia. The strengths and weaknesses of an electoral court system should also be considered.

Review EDR time frames. Legislative reform of the time frames for elections is needed to avoid the potential for constitutional crisis that became apparent during the 2017 electoral process. The timeframes for the electoral dispute-resolution process should be well-synched with other areas of law, including the expiration of terms and the swearing-in of newly elected leaders.

Establishment of EDR procedures for pre-election complaints. The dispute-resolution process for pre-election complaints should be clarified, and specific time frames established. The National Election Commission (NEC) should ensure that all complaints and appeals about candidate registration are adjudicated prior to the start of the campaign period so that the right to due process and appeal does not negatively impact the right to participate in public affairs.

Requirement that disputes regarding election results clearly demonstrate impact on results. In line with international best practice, the legal framework for the resolution of election disputes should consistently require that disputes requesting an annulment of election results clearly demonstrate that the alleged improprieties could have changed the outcome of the election. While the current election law (chapter six) does suggest that only complaints that demonstrate a possible effect on election results should be filed, this standard was not consistently implemented and should be strengthened in future legal reform.

Election Administration

Political participation of persons with disabilities. To facilitate participation of persons with disabilities, the NEC should increase access to polling precincts through the use of temporary measures, including ramps and other devices that effectively enable access. In addition, election officials should increase voter awareness of the availability of physical accommodations and the tactile ballot, and train poll workers to proactively offer the tactile ballot to visually impaired voters.

IPCC. The Intra-Party Consultative Committee played a positive role building a relationship between the political parties and the NEC. This forum should be maintained outside the election cycle, and where possible, replicated at the county level through the magistrate offices.

NEC media strategy. To enhance public confidence in the election administration, the NEC’s communication strategy should include greater efforts to inform citizens of NEC actions. Substantive meetings of the commission should be open to the public and agendas and decisions posted online.

Training. To improve the consistent application of rules and procedures and ensure that all voters are treated equally and all votes counted in a consistent manner, training materials should be developed well in advance of election day and distributed to the magistrates, including for any run-off elections. Magistrates should be trained on all key aspects of the process, including tabulation.

Boundary delimitation and equal suffrage. To ensure respect for the equality of the vote, constituency boundaries should be redrawn to minimize the deviations in constituency size and reflect the current demographics of the country.

Timing of elections. Consideration should be given to moving the election date out of the rainy season, which would require a constitutional amendment. When reviewing the timing of elections, consideration should also be given to the time frames necessary to complete any dispute resolution processes in time to meet deadlines for the inauguration of newly elected leaders.

Voter Registration

  • Right to vote for youth, pre-trial detainees, and the hospitalized. Procedures to extend voter registration to persons turning 18 between the end of voter registration period and election day, as well as to pre-trial detainees and the hospitalized, should be established in order to prevent unlawful disenfranchisement of persons eligible to vote.
  • Extracting the voter registry from a civil registry in future elections. Careful consideration should be given to the pros and cons of linking the voter registry to the civil registry. This should be assessed well in advance of future elections so that alternatives to using the civil registry can be in place, if needed. Regardless of the system, the goals should be to ensure enfranchisement of as much of the voting-age population as possible, to minimize the strain on resources, and to instill greater public confidence in a voter register that can be periodically updated.

Candidate Nomination, Campaign Period, and Campaign Finance

Review National Code of Conduct to ensure compliance with the international obligations. The National Code of Conduct time frames for public officials to step down from their posts in advance of contesting elections should be carefully reviewed to ensure that they are not overly restrictive on the right of persons to contest as candidates.

Two percent requirement. The requirement for political parties to obtain two percent of the votes in the constituencies where they contest or be prohibited from participating in the next two elections is an undue restriction on the right to participate in public affairs, and is inconsistent with Liberia’s commitments under the ICCPR.

Strengthen and enforce campaign finance reporting requirements. To foster a level playing field and greater transparency, campaign-finance regulations should be closely monitored and enforced, and NEC’s capacity to monitor and enforce regulations should be bolstered. Further consideration should be given to requiring campaign-finance reporting before election day, and those reports should be published so that voters can make informed decisions.

Ensuring a level playing field. Measures should be put in place to guarantee that requests for public space and access to roads for campaign purposes are treated on an equal basis.

Equal access to media. In accordance with international standards, all candidates and parties should have equitable access to the media for campaign purposes. Consideration should be given to mandating that state media provide some free airtime for all contesting political parties and candidates.

To address issues that arose on Election Day and improve the integrity of the process, The Carter Center recommends that officials: Adjust the structure of the voter list to allow voters to easily identify their polling place and polling officials to quickly find their names on the list, perhaps by making it alphabetical; Strengthen recruitment and training of queue controllers; Strengthen ballot-handling procedures; Improve visibility of party agents and observers; Strengthen training on counting procedures; Adjust the record of the count form to capture the number of voters according to the marks on the voter lists as well as on information from the gender data sheet, and Strengthen tabulation procedures and release them earlier.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Not possible, intruding, and deep into internal affairs o the Liberian nation. Ready to fight its outcome. Ass screwing will not spoil our future generation.
    Tell Liberians.
    See silent majority.

    • Freedom of speech YES. Using foul language when discussing a legitimate issue NO. Respect yourself as a real Liberian. Liberians are Very Respectable, PLEASE.

  2. Fucking in the butt is un-African and un-Liberian. This is diametrical to our culture and we will resist it to the end . Take that aspect of your nomenclature to the West where it rightly belongs. Homo-sexualism is inhuman. and should be discouraged on the African continent.

    • It is SAD when you result into using PROFANITY on social media. Please express your dissatisfaction on crucial issues in a civil manner. Liberians are very RESPECTABLE.

  3. The Carter Center has done a lot of good stuff in Liberia. Because of what the (Carter Center) CC has done so far, my God, credit is due.

    However, the Carter Center’s recent foray into the country’s domestic political arena is inappropriate. The CC has gone a little too far. Some brakes are needed.

    The two areas of inappropriate involvement by the CC are:

    1. The request to Grant citizenship to non-negroes &
    2. The request for gays in Liberia to be recognized.

    Of course, the two issues that have been put forth by the CC are not demands, but rather suggestions. We’ll deal with them as suggestions.

    Gay Rights:
    Gay rights issues are an abomination! Gay rights issues are very abnormal. Here’s how. Normal sex occurs between a man and a woman. Furthermore, the normal men and women who do sex, do not demand any special recognition or “sex” rights! Never. So, on the issue of gay rights, why do gays want to be recognized? Answer. Well, gays want to be recognized because the lifestyle they’re involved in is abnormal. Period.

    There are two simple reasons why gay-recognition will not be sanctioned by the Liberian lawmakers:
    1. Again and again, Gay lifestyle is an abomination and
    2. By granting the rights gays in Liberia demand, Liberians will be subject to God’s wrath. In other words, gays ought to deal with the consequences of their lifestyle/transgressions all by themselves and leave everyone else out of that crap. For sure, we recognize that gays are children of God. That’s how far we can go!

    Citizenship For Non-Negroes in Liberians?
    Again no. Please. Liberia being a very poor country with so many dubious distinctions, it is undoable at this time. Maybe 200 years from now. In all sincerity, it would be treasonous if not downright suicidal to grant citizenship to an Asian or any non negro. In fact, all negroes in my view should not be eligible for Liberian citizenship. Period!

    Some scary reasons:
    There are some foreign friends of Liberia who are buying land in Liberia like crazy. These “nightriders” are wealthy. Secondly, by buying land and putting up buildings, they’re laying the groundwork for citizenship. If they’re are stopped, Liberians will have nothing to call a home in the near future.

    Furthermore, corruption is very thick within the ranks of some biggies in Liberia. The Liberian biggies are untrustworthy. At a time when our public schools do not have computers, xerox machines or good textbooks for students, it will be nonsensical for such a move to be contemplated.

    Gay rights issues? No.
    Non-negro citizenship? No.

    • F.S. Hney,

      The purpose of the so called good stuff they are doing is so that when the day comes, we’ll do whatever they ask or “suggest”. Since our nation is reliant on their provision, it would be considered rude not to implement their suggestion. This has and will always be the agenda.

      From the inception of Liberia, we have been accustomed to doing what America and other western nations tell us to do. And if ever there’s a president that will resist their demands, that person will be eliminated as we’ve seen throughout the ages up to this present day. This is what happens when you join hands with the devil – everything he gives, comes at a cost. Back in the days when I used to watch Nigerian movies, you see a guy joins a secret society with the hope to get rich, only to find out he has to sacrifice a close relative first before the riches can be bestowed on him. And all of a sudden he wants to run away but finds out it’s too late to turn back. It’s either do or be done with. Sadly this is the position we have found ourselves.

      My prayer is that, the government will make a public statement rejecting TCC suggestions. But at the same time, as I’ve stated above, I wouldn’t bet on it.

  4. It’s ALWAYS about external meddling and interference in Liberia, and the SELL-OUTS! President William R. Tolbert visited President Jimmy Carter in Washington in 1979. Liberia had a coup d’état in 1980. In 1997, shortly after President Carter returned from Liberia, where he served as an international observer of the elections, Charles Ghankay Taylor was confirmed as president. The rest is our history… And now with where Liberia is as 2018 ends, the best the Carter Center can recommend is “Grant Non-Negro Citizenship, Gay Rights”? What nonsense! What an insult! As F.S. Hney stated above, ‘In fact, all negroes in my view should not be eligible for Liberian citizenship. Period!’ DAMN RIGHT and TIMES HAVE CHANGED. WE better REVIEW our HISTORY and do a reality check. Most everything can be explained. WHEN YOU LOVE YOUR COUNTRY, YOU PROTECT IT.

  5. I don’t even think all negros or people of negro decent should be granted citizenship in Liberia. I think citizenship has to be reciprocal among and between our negro friendly states or countries. It’s nearly impossible to be granted a citizenship in Ghana as a Liberia, yet Ghanaians are granted citizenship after 3-5 years of stay in Liberia. That crap should be changed. A Liberian would never become a citizen of the Bahamas or Bermuda. Neither can a Liberian become a citizen of India, Singapore or Lebanon. Our leaders should think twice or they would be selling our country.

    As for gay and lesbian rights, well, we respect and tolerate our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, but their act is an abomination.

  6. Leave the gays alone. you guys accepted ‘Tecumseh Roberts, Robert sirleaf, the Weeks sisters, EJS so leave the gays and lesbians alone. Sophie Dunbar was a lesbian and a whole community was named after her. Stay out of the bedrooms of Liberians. Once you are gay. you are gay. nothing can change it. beat them, kill them, abuse them but you cannot beat the gay out of them. Most gay people are right there in your family and you dont even know they are gay. If you love your brother and he was gay would you kill hiim or beat him?

  7. Jimmy Carter was POTUS when plans for the violent overthrow of President Tolbert were finalized and approved under the watch of POTUS Jimmy Carter. Again in 1992 President Carter visited warlord Charles Taylor in Gbarnga and upon his return declared that ECOMOG posed a threat to peace on Liberia.

    We next saw Operation Octopus that took the lives of thousands and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property. Now 28 years after President Tolbert’s violent removal from office, and the lifting of restrictions on information concerning this matter, can the Carter Center come clean and tell the Liberian people the truth?

    Also why is the Carter Center trying to foist its belief systems on the Liberian people when in the US for example the Death Penalty is being meted out to individuals? They campaign against issues here in Liberia while they keep silent on outrages committed against ordinary Liberians by greedy US corporate interests like in Kinjor financed by the likes of the International Finance Corporation etc. This is sheer double-barreled hypocrisy.

  8. Jimmy Carter was POTUS when plans for the violent overthrow of President Tolbert were finalized and approved under the watch of POTUS Jimmy Carter. Again in 1992 President Carter visited warlord Charles Taylor in Gbarnga and upon his return declared that ECOMOG posed a threat to peace on Liberia.

    We next saw Operation Octopus that took the lives of thousands and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property. Now 28 years after President Tolbert’s violent removal from office, and the lifting of restrictions on information concerning this matter, can the Carter Center come clean and tell the Liberian people the truth?

    Also why is the Carter Center trying to foist its belief systems on the Liberian people when in the US for example the Death Penalty is being meted out to individuals? They campaign against issues here in Liberia while they keep silent on outrages committed against ordinary Liberians by greedy US corporate interests like in Kinjor financed by the likes of the International Finance Corporation etc. This is sheer double-barreled hypocrisy. This is not a duplicate comment

  9. The granting citizenship to non-negro descendants must be considered in a socio-economic context visa vi “the haves and the have nots”. It seems clear that 95% of the current Liberian populace would think of itself as the “have nots”, and this same 95% would think of the non-negroes who are granted Liberian citizenship to be the “haves”. Can one not imagine a Liberian state in which the “haves” with the wealth and means controlling every area of life and living, and the majority of Liberians that make up the “have nots” being the subservient class? What was colonialism like for most of the continent of Africa and other places that colonized by non-negroes? We can observe that Liberia is presently at or in a state of fragility that requires that this status quo on this particular issue of citizenship be maintained but with openness. God bless Liberia!

  10. Not one non white person in america was granted citizenship until the whole of america was taken over by Europeans. When citizenship was granted to non white people, these non white people never had a piece of property . If the non whites wanted property in america, the non whites had to but properties from the white Europeans that acquired properties by the force of arms or by way of land aportioning to whites only. Carter center needs to address these injustices in America.

  11. Not one non white person in america was granted citizenship until the whole of america was taken over by Europeans. When citizenship was granted to non white people, these non white people never had a piece of property . If the non whites wanted property in america, the non whites had to buy properties from the white Europeans that acquired properties by the force of arms or by way of land aportioning to whites only. Carter center needs to address these injustices in America.

  12. Da Voice,
    I’ve got your point. But, I am not naive about the “behind the scenes” talk that goes on between the top leaders. Whether the Liberian leadership is arm-twisted in order to get some mullah or not, it is vitally important to state the truth. In my Christian upbringing, I was led to believe that homosexuality is an abomination! I will maintain that view irrespective of what others say. Secondly, in my view, Liberians are not yet ready to grant citizenship to non negreos. Neither are the Liberians ready to grant citizenship to all negroes.
    The Carter Center has been helpful. Jobs have been created for Liberians because of its presence in Liberia. That’s positive.
    I like homosexuals because they are children of God just as I am. Bu tthe fact that homosexual lifestyle is an abomination cannot be hidden.

    We don’t have to grant homosexuals what they need in order to get more money. If the CC wants to grant two million bucks, they should. But if the CC states that because the Liberian leadership is unwilling to grant recognition rights to gays and therefore the amount of two million dollars will be slashed to one million, I will accept that!

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