MEDIA RELEASE - August 8th, 2020

 

 

FINAL APPEAL: ABIDE BY THE CODE AND KEEP OUR ELECTIONS PEACEFUL

 

With polling day (August 10, 2020) fast approaching, the Council for Responsible Political Behaviour acknowledges that, notwithstanding several lapses and violations of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct, the campaign thus far has been largely peaceful, with political parties and candidates exercising a sense of responsibility in a campaign operationalized under a new ‘normal.’ As the campaign comes to an end, it can only be expected that all parties would continue to abide with the commitments they made when they signed to Code.


We restate these commitments hereunder:

  • Uphold the Constitution and the spirit and letter of the laws relating to the holding of public activities and election campaigns.

  • Maintain the highest moral principles and ethical standards with respect to their conduct during the campaign, the elections and the post-election period.

  • Cooperate with the police in maintaining law and order during election campaigns.

  • Promote and enforce respect, tolerance, harmony and peace amongst their supporters in the remaining hours before the poll, as well as on election day and in the post-election period.

  • Refrain from practices that promote divisiveness in the Society and commit to the removal of any structures (behavioural, cultural, social or organizational) which reinforce divisiveness.

Alongside, these commitments, parties signing on to the Code had also agreed that certain conduct would be deemed prohibited. Again as we come to the election day, the Council would like to underscore some behaviour and practices which should be avoided. Amongst these are:

  • Not offer any inducement or reward, for example money, groceries or other benefits, to another person to Vote or not to vote, or to vote or not to vote in any particular way

  • Not discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, class, religion or belief, or seek to mobilize support by reference to race, sex, gender, religion or class.

  • Not make false or defamatory allegations in print or speech in connection with an election in respect of a Party, its Candidates, representatives or members.

  • Not use language or act in a way that may provoke violence; or Intimidate Candidates, members of Parties, representatives or supporters of Parties or Candidates, or voters; or invite, encourage or foster hatred, resentment or any form of violence.

  • Not seek to assassinate the character of or make defamatory comments about any individual, family, professional group or section of the community.

  • Not deface, or induce anyone to unlawfully remove or destroy, or deface the billboards, placards, posters or any other election materials of a Party or Candidate.

 

The Council would also like to stress that there should be no harassment or intimidation and public and private property must be respected. Once such conduct remains prohibited, the election will be conducted in a manner of which we will all be proud.
 

Like in every contest, there will emerge winners and while the winners will celebrate, they should ensure that their victory celebrations are tempered so as to ensure that on the morning of August 11, 2020, all citizens, winners, as well as losers, will hold their heads high in consideration of a well fought election. Acknowledging that we will all continue to live in our common space of Trinidad and Tobago, let us ensure that we live in peace and harmony. In the context of the current pandemic, the word “live” takes on special meaningand in this regard the Council would also like to encourage all political parties, leaders, candidates and supporters to be mindful of the health regulations and protect yourselves so that you are not infected with the COVID 19 virus.
 

The work of the Council will continue beyond election day, August 10, 2020. Immediately after the elections, we will remind Parties and Candidates of their pledges, in accordance with the Code, regarding the removal of campaign advertisements and having their accounts audited, particularly in relation to donations. Cognizant of some of the violations to the Code as occurred in this campaign, the Council will also be making representation for electoral reform if only to minimize the recurrence of these violations. The Council will also embark upon an education drive on the Code of Ethical Political Conduct and the responsibilities of Political parties, Leaders, and supporters. The Council will seek the support of the national community in this drive. In this regard, the Council will like to extend its thanks to those elements of the media which supported the work of the Council in disseminating information of the Code as well as the findings of the Council as relates to adherence to the Code. It is only with such supports, leading to a combined effort, will the ethical standards of Trinidad and Tobago’s democratic traditions be enhanced and strengthened.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Council,

 

Dr. Bishnu Ragoonath, Chair