What is the problem?
Most previous electoral processes in Libya were flawed and elections perceived as lacking legitimacy due to the lack of representation of certain groups of the population. Since 2011, demands from minority groups in Libya have focused on securing greater political representation at both the local and national levels as well as guarantees that their cultural and linguistic rights will be respected. In the 2014 elections (parliamentary), minority groups such as the Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg were underrepresented and boycotted the electoral process. To this day, Tebu and Tuareg continue to experience discrimination and to face difficulties in obtaining official documentation and Libyan citizenship and in accessing employment and public services, including civil and electoral registries. “Displaced persons, inside and outside the country”, face similar issues, as many of them had to leave their documents behind when they were forcibly displaced and had to flee their homes. Consequently, they have been unable to access documentation and to register for public services. As a result, these groups have been excluded from the political process. If nothing is done to address these issues, they are at risk of being disenfranchised in the upcoming elections once again.
The needs of persons with disabilities have also been regularly overlooked, curtailing their capacity to participate in political life. For example, in the previous elections, only a limited number of polling stations were equipped to receive persons with disabilities and address their needs. In fact, no accommodation at all was made for visually impaired voters. Persons with disabilities were not supported to engage in media coverage or awareness campaigns organised to encourage participation in the electoral process. Despite the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the GNA in 2018, the legal framework has yet to be amended to address the needs of persons with disabilities.
These limitations impede the right of these vulnerable groups to participate in the elections as voters but also as candidates. Any legal or effective restrictions on the right to stand for election must be justifiable on objective and reasonable criteria. Persons who are otherwise eligible to stand for election should not be excluded by unreasonable or discriminatory requirements such as education, residence or descent, or by reason of political affiliation.
What you must do about it
In order to be free and fair, elections must be truly inclusive. This is key to ensure that the results of the elections are respected and regarded as legitimate by the Libyan people, which will in turn guarantee a peaceful transition to the newly elected government and legislature. To facilitate equal access to all the Libyan people, you must:
- Guarantee the participation of minority groups by making information available in all indigenous languages, including Tamazight, Tuareg and Tebu, in order to reach all communities;
- Ensure that information, for example on how to vote, is available in formats that are accessible to all, including persons with disabilities such as those with visual impairments and people with learning difficulties;
- Ensure that voter registration is inclusive, accessible, and that the largest number of eligible Libyans inside and outside the country can register. Special adjustments should be made for displaced persons who are not in their usual place of residence and may not have access to the civil registry;
- Facilitate the return of displaced persons in a secure, safe and dignified manner, allowing them to register and vote in their hometown;
- Ensure that election rules do not discriminate or arbitrarily exclude potential voters or candidates;
- Promptly provide financial support to the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) and state institutions concerned with electoral process, to enable them to carry out their duties, as per the Roadmap (article 4.4) including awareness-raising and education campaigns on the importance of the inclusion of the vulnerable groups in the political process;
- Prepare polling stations to allow people with disabilities to participate in the electoral process.