Campaign Finance Reform and Electoral Preparedness Necessary to Preserve Rights
October 14, 2011, Kingston , Jamaica – Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) is in full support of the call from many sectors of the society for Campaign Finance Reforms to be enacted now. We also support the calls that point to the need for sufficient time to be given for preparations for elections to be put in place by the Electoral Office of Jamaica and various interest groups such as CAFFE.
Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out the “right to take part in the government of [the] country” that belongs to everyone. Section 13(3)(m)(ii) of the Charter of Rights of the Jamaican Constitution sets out the right “to vote in free and fair elections” which is a particularly important part of the right to take part in the Government of the country. The exercise of the right “to vote in free and fair elections” requires certain critical prerequisites including: limited opportunity to influence the outcome of the elections with money; and adequate preparation to ensure that voting is ‘free and fair’ by the relevant authorities.
JFJ is satisfied that a strong Campaign Finance Law, as proposed by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, is urgently needed to protect the electoral process from undue influence. Both the PNP and the JLP had committed to providing their party’s response to these recommendations by the end of September 2011. Recent events in the JLP and the looming prospect of an early general election make it even more critical that the parties commit to tabling in Parliament, and passing quickly, the strong Campaign Finance Law needed to control the influence of money on our politics. This could be done within two weeks if there was sufficient political will. It SHOULD be done BEFORE there is another general election.
All Jamaicans have seen the difference that proper preparation by the Electoral Office and proper oversight by civil society have made to the conduct of ‘free and fair’ elections in Jamaica. We must NOT lose this hard won improvement in the processes. To that end we join the calls for adequate notice of an election to be given so that full and proper arrangements to ensure a ‘free and fair’ vote can be made by all those who have a role to play.
Rights, including the right to ‘free voting procedures’ and “free and fair elections”, must always be jealously guarded from erosion in the service of political or other agendas. We must all demand their full protection from the vagaries of politics. To that end all Jamaicans must insist on Campaign Finance Reform laws being in place and adequate notice being given before we go to another general election.