Judge highlights critical role of election observers

By Deidre Fanene ,

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SAMOA MEETING: Election officials from all over the Commonwealth countries gathering in Samoa this week.

SAMOA MEETING: Election officials from all over the Commonwealth countries gathering in Samoa this week. (Photo: OneLook Communications)

The role of election observers in running any election is critical.

The point was highlighted by Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke yesterday.

He was speaking about Election Observation on Day 4 of the Commonwealth Election Professionals (C.E.P) Initiative Pacific workshop being held this week at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia.

Justice Lei’ataualesa was a member of the Commonwealth Election Observer group to the Solomon Islands elections in 2014.

“The roles of election observers in elections are critical for a variety of reasons,” he said.

“These include things such as voter turnout. It gives reassurances to the community in the electorate which they’re in. It gives credibility and transparency to a process like that.”

Reflecting on his own experience, Justice Lei’ataualesa said the Solomon Islands election was an eye-opener.

“In terms of the experience in the Solomon Islands, I thought the Commonwealth Observer team was very much welcomed in that country,” he said.

“We had a very good snapshot of how that election was carried out.”

As a Supreme Court Judge and lawyer, Justice Lei’ataualesa stressed the importance of transparency.

“I cannot overemphasize to you the significance of knowing the law and applying it correctly,” he said.  “Electoral laws must ensure transparency”.

The training focuses on strengthening electoral democracy in the Commonwealth Pacific region. It is attended by electoral officials from the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators Network (P.I.A.N.Z.E.A).

The training, which ends today, is co-hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Office of the Electoral Commission, Samoa. It is funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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