Baghdad, Iraq, 24 April 2018 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, rejects and denounces defamation campaigns notably in social media specifically targeting women candidates in the parliamentary elections, and urges the political parties and all of Iraqi society to stand up against such vulgar acts that only serve to undermine the democratic process.
“Defamation and violence against candidates - women and men - are threats to the integrity of the electoral process. Vulgar acts against posters of women candidates and attacks against reputation and honour of candidates and their families, pressing them to step down, particularly bring anguish to women, for it hurt their and their family honour, dignity and reputation, affect their participation as voters, candidates, election officials, activists and future political leaders and members of parliament and government,” the Special Representative said.
The Special Representative met with a number of women candidates for the Council of Representatives elections to discuss this alarming situation. He highlighted the role of women while encouraging them to press ahead with their campaigns irrespective of the threats and intimidation they are facing. The women called for action at the highest levels to ensure equal chances and fair competition is not undermined.
“Active participation of women in the election means success of the election process and democracy in Iraq. Those behind defamation, cyber bullying and harassment are trying to scare you off, afraid of educated, dynamic, qualified, courageous and open-minded women candidates that rightfully claim their space and meaningful role in political life of Iraq as a critical factor of positive change,” Mr. Kubiš said. “This election should remain a competition to pick the best of the candidates, based on programmes and policies that will serve the people’s interests with honesty and professionalism.”
UNAMI, as depository of the Electoral Charter of Honour signed by the political parties recently on the conduct of the elections, calls on all political parties and their supporters throughout Iraq including the Kurdistan Region to abide by the text and spirit of the document.
“In this regard, I applaud the efforts of the follow-up Committee of the Electoral Charter of Honour in Baghdad to promote respect and civility among candidates,” Mr. Kubiš said. The committee condemned the targeting of female and male candidates and acts of intimidation of the campaign teams and vandalism of posters and unethical acts.
UNAMI adds its voice to the follow-up Committee’s call for taking all necessary measures to ensure that the electoral campaign is conducted in an atmosphere of fair competition and allow the voters to elect their representatives free from pressures or threats. The Mission fully supports the Committee’s call on media outlets and social media to exercise professionalism, refrain from slander and act while safeguarding the traditions and societal values that Iraq prides itself of. “I call upon all state and political leaders to raise their voices and stand against the targeting and defamation of women candidates,” Mr. Kubiš said.
“I call upon political parties, representatives and civil society and notably the affected candidates to use all legal means to protect themselves and the integrity of the elections. I call upon the political leaders to urge their supporters to refrain from malicious campaigns and acts.”
“I call upon the state, electoral and judicial institutions to investigate and take action against such abuses and their perpetrators, to ensure that the laws are respected and dignity, security and safety of candidates protected so that they can run their campaigns without threats and intimidation.”
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