By Ester Mbathera
TRIAL-AWAITING and serving prisoners will be able to vote with the rest of the country on 27 November 2019, the ECN has confirmed. Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) public relations officer Victoria Hango said there will be no special voting for inmates or trial-awaiting prisoners. “ECN will deploy a mobile team to the different correctional services facilities and police holding cells to ensure that anyone who qualifies to vote is able to do so,” she said. Hango added that trial-awaiting prisoners and serving inmates were afforded an opportunity to register during the supplementary voter’s registration exercise earlier this year. “Namibia will be one constituency on 27 November and people can vote wherever they find themselves. Family members should help take the voters’ cards of their relatives who are in custody to them so that they can partake in the elections,” Hango said.Namibia is among the few countries on the continent which does not take away the right of a prisoner to vote in presidential and national elections.Regardless of their status, Article 17 of the Namibian Constitution allows all citizens over the age of 18 years to participate in public affairs, either by holding a public office themselves or by electing representatives to government. This also allows prisoners on remand and serving prisoners to vote. “The police will have to take them to the polling stations because they must take care of the detainees, including their right to vote,” Human Rights lawyer Norman Tjombe said.By law, trial-awaiting prisoners and those who have been sentenced lose some of their rights, such as freedom of movement, but they still keep other rights such as the right to dignity, life, equality and freedom from discrimination, Tjombe explained. Police inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga said they will make resources available to allow those in police custody to exercise their right to participate in the upcoming presidential and National Assembly elections.
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