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Friday, April 19, 2024

IEC urged to hold National Assembly, local government elections together

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By Omar Bah

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the Independent Electoral Commission to urgently consider holding parliamentary and local government elections on the same day to prevent dwindling voter turnout as observed following the 2021 presidential election.

In its 2023 State of Human Rights Report, the commission advised government to allocate adequate financial resources to implement the decisions in the truth commission white paper and take necessary steps to expedite the passing of the Peace, Reconciliation and Reparations Bill.

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The report also asked government to implement the recommendations of the Acute Kidney Injury Presidential Task Force Report.

NHRC further urged the government to expedite the passing of the Special Prosecutions Office Bill 2023 and the Special Accountability Mechanism Bill 2023, and domesticate the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances ratified in 2018.

The commission also encouraged the government to  “conduct a holistic review of laws and regulations governing the issuance of import licences for pharmaceutical products and strengthen the Medicines Control Agency”.

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It also urged the government to enforce and implement the anti-corruption Act 2023, including the expeditious establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

“Take necessary steps to raise awareness on corruption and the existence of the Act to prevent and punish practices and implement the recommendations of the audit reports of the National Audit Office regarding mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds,” it added.

The commission also urged government to put in place the implementation infrastructure for the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2023 and enforce its provisions.

The NHRC said government should put in place a standard minimum wage to determine qualification for legal aid, expedite the establishment of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the hybrid court and invest adequate resources in their work.

“Expand and equip more courts around the country to help decongest courts and expedite trials and hearings, ensure the effective functioning of the Judiciary Prisons Visiting Committee; ensure the effective implementation of its Strategic Plan 2021-2025; refrain from stifling freedom of speech, including that of the media; take steps to repeal sections 51-54 of the Criminal Code; respect, honour and enforce decisions, judgments and rulings of the courts; and ensure media and freedom of expression provisions contained within the Constitution, and comply with international standards, as outlined under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” it added.

The government was also urged to amend Section 5 of the Public Order Act and replace the issuance of permits for public meetings with notifications.

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