ISLAMABAD, March 18, 2013: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)’s District Long-Term Observers (DLTOs) observed security and public accessibility to District Election Commissioner (DEC) offices in 61 districts between February 27 and March 10, 2013. FAFEN observers identified potential public accessibility issues in 15 of the 61 observed DEC offices and a need for enhanced security measures in 42 offices, says a press release issued by FAFEN on Monday.
Out of 61 observed DEC offices, 46 (75%) were located in public places with no security barricades. The remaining 15 offices (25%), however, were not easily accessible due to the presence of security barricades and/or distant locations.
FAFEN observers reported that 12 DEC offices were located beyond police barricades. These offices were located in Rawalpindi and Kasur in Punjab; Dadu, Malir, Karachi Central, Karachi South and Karachi West in Sindh; Bannu, Charsadda and Mardan in KP; Lasbela in Balochistan and South Waziristan Agency in FATA.
In Bannu, Malir, Karachi South and Karachi Central, people had to pass through an additional barricade put up by Rangers/paramilitary forces to reach the DEC office. Meanwhile, the DEC offices in Mardan and Rawalpindi were found to be located beyond additional barricades put up by the Army and/or unidentified people (persons not wearing identifiable uniforms), making them difficult for people to visit.
In Panjgur, FAFEN observers reported that the DEC office is located beyond barricades put up by Rangers/paramilitary forces, while the office in Swat was located beyond Army barricades. In addition, the observer in Thatta reported that the DEC office was in a far-off area, making public access difficult.
Out of the 61 observed DEC offices, 42 (69%) had no security guards. Most of these (20) were located in Punjab, followed by 14 in Sindh, seven in KP and one in Balochistan.
The absence of guards could cause security problems or dissuade citizens from visiting the DEC offices. In addition, it could also prompt unauthorized people (people not wearing identifiable uniforms) to establish security barriers outside the DEC office entrances to restrict access to the people.
FAFEN recommends that ECP and DECs coordinate with local administration to dismantle security barricades established by unidentified groups or individuals and ensure that all DEC offices have official security guards and an appropriate level of security measures to enable public accessibility while ensuring safety.
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