On 11 April 2021, the Election Court in Gaza ruled in favor of Al Mezan’s challenge against the decision of the Central Elections Commission to disenfranchise eligible prison inmates, inpatients, care home residents, and persons under quarantine. In this significant ruling, the Court found that the Commission has the responsibility to undertake all appropriate procedures to ensure these categories of constituents are able to exercise their right to vote.
As background, on 17 February 2021, Al Mezan called on the Commission to enable eligible prison inmates to vote in the upcoming 22 May 2021 elections. Al Mezan’s request came after its monitoring showed that no clear and declared procedures related to the inclusion of eligible inmates in the electoral register had been implemented. Prompted by the Commission’s response on 1 April 2021 that served to confirm that voters would be disenfranchised, Al Mezan proceeded to file an official objection with the Commission. However, on 7 April 2021, the Center was informed that the Commission’s decision was final. Accordingly, on 8 April 2021, Al Mezan filed a challenge to the Election Court, requesting the Court to instruct the Commission to allow eligible voters in custody and all other eligible constituencies to exercise their right to vote.
The challenge was based on both domestic law and international standards and principles that underpin the right to political participation, namely Article 26 of the Palestinian Amended Basic Law and Article 28 of Decree Law no. 1 of 2007 (on General Elections), according to which every Palestinian citizen in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Jerusalem should enjoy the right to vote.
Al Mezan commends the Court’s decision and looks to the Commission to ensure the integrity and freedom of the elections.