New Framework offers practical tools to investigate and prosecute electoral violence

By Jillian Slutzker

April 17, 2017

A new, first-of-its-kind toolkit provides authorities with tools to build stronger cases against perpetrators of electoral violence and reduce the culture of impunity that often surrounds these crimes, Creative Associates International announced.

Called “Best Practices for Investigating Crimes of Electoral Violence: The Electoral Violence Investigation Framework,” the 32-page document draws from research and guidelines in forensics and electoral security to offer practical measures police can take to address electoral crimes, ranging from voter intimidation to vandalism, physical assault or even bombings.

The framework was authored by Lori McLaughlin, American University graduate student of Global Governance, Politics, and Security, under the supervision of Creative’s Senior Electoral Advisor Jeff Fischer.

“We sought to combine the best practices associated with criminal investigations in general with those of understanding and profiling electoral violence,” explains Fischer. “Given the political sensitivities and a culture of impunity associated with electoral violence, such guidelines for police investigations of incidents against candidates and voters did not exist before.”

Practical guidelines for a global audience

The newly released Electoral Violence Investigation Framework provides detailed standards and considerations authorities will need to take into account to investigate and prosecute electoral crimes. This includes topics such as the appropriate types of technological and financial resources, roles of key personnel and criteria for police trainings on use of force, ethics and electoral laws, among other areas.

“The Framework intends to offer investigation standards, primarily for police, so that their investigations can be viewed as both thorough and apolitical,” says Fischer, who has co-authored two U.S. Agency for International Development handbooks on Best Practices in Electoral Security and an Electoral Security Framework.

Creative’s Electoral Education and Integrity team has conducted electoral security assessments in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Colombia, Haiti, Ghana, Guatemala, the Philippines, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

As electoral violence affects countries across the economic and political spectrum, the Framework’s creators intend it for practitioners of electoral security and law enforcement across the globe, taking special care to avoid a strictly Western lens.

“The Framework’s utility needed to be accommodating for a global audience,” says the document’s author McLaughlin, who plans to pursue a career in violence prevention and human security after earning her Master’s degree in May.

McLaughlin believes that with its applicable guidelines for practitioners, the Framework has the potential to help address the complex challenge of election-related violence.

“I believe that conflict situations can be mitigated or perhaps prevented when actors engage thoughtfully,” she says. “Supportive resources, like the Framework, should dissolve a lofty problem into more manageable and tangible tasks.”

Click here to read “Best Practices for Investigating Crimes of Electoral Violence: The Electoral Violence Investigation Framework.”

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