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Safeguarding IDP voting rights

Balkees Jarrah and Erin Mooney

EXCERPT

Elections are an important means by which IDPs can have a say in the political, economic and social decisions affecting their lives. As citizens of the country in which they are uprooted, IDPs are entitled to vote and participate in public affairs, a right which is affirmed in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.[1] In practice, however, IDP voters often find a number of obstacles put in their way. These include: 

Lack of documentation:
Displacement frequently results in the loss or confiscation of identity documents, making it difficult for IDPs to register or vote on election day. Obtaining replacement documentation often proves difficult and may require IDPs to return to unsafe areas. Issuing IDPs – women as well as men – with replacement documentation (a right set out in Guiding Principle 20) should be prioritised.

Discriminatory practices:
In many cases, IDPs are members of ethnic or religious minority groups who suffer discrimination. In Croatia, displaced Serb voters have in the past faced cumbersome registration procedures, had access to fewer polling stations than displaced Croats and in some cases were barred from voting altogether.

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[1] Principle 22 1(d). www.reliefweb.int/ocha_ol/pub/idp_gp/idp.html

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