To better understand the voting experiences of people with disabilities during the 2016 suco council elections, the national organization for people with disabilities in Timor-Leste, Ra’es Hadomi Timor Oan (RHTO), received support from USAID’s Mai Munisipiu program (previously, Ba Distrito) to undertake extensive election monitoring at 41 polling stations across five municipalities and regions of the country. Monitors recorded levels of participation by people with disabilities, complaints, levels of accessibility, physical barriers and assistance provided to people with disabilities.
Although the 2016 elections were more accessible than in 2012 and demonstrate that Timor-Leste is able to implement safe elections, RHTO’s monitoring also showed that elections in Timor-Leste are not yet truly inclusive for people with disabilities. The report makes recommendations that will empower the Government to fulfill its obligation to ensure full democratic involvement of all citizens, including citizens with disabilities, starting with the 2017 National Elections. The report includes recommendations to:
- Implement disability training programs for staff of the national electoral management bodies;
- Amend regulations and laws governing presidential and parliamentary elections;
- Undertake outreach and communications to marginalized communities
- Include a representative for “disability and inclusion” on each suco council
- Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)