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Cases received by ECB related to the General Election Campaign Period and decisions taken

The Election Commission of Bhutan would like to inform the general public on the 10 cases received and decided till date through the Election Dispute Settlement System, in relation to the General Election of the National Assembly 2018. The details of the 6 cases in Appeal Period and 4 cases currently under process will be provided in the due course of time.

Case #1: Complaint lodged by Tsagay and Kado against Thinley Wangdi and Namgay Tshering, DNT Candidate for Dokar_Sharpa Demkhong of Paro Dzongkhag
The Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) received the complaint dated 17th of September 2018 on 21st of September 2018. After investigation, a hearing including attendance by 2 key witnesses was conducted on 27th of September 2018. The CEDSB found that religious items were donated by Thinley Wangdi to the Drakha Tsen Neykhang in installments before the Election Period starting from 2017. There is no evidence to prove that it was used for electoral gain of the Candidate as alleged. The other allegations of similar promise and serving of drinks was found to be based on hearsay and Thinley Wangdi provided documentation to prove that his new car was purchased through his own resources. The proposed Wang programme had not been permitted and was not conducted in the Village. The CEDSB fined the complainants for lodging the complaint without proper fact findings and causing disturbance to the small community and were required to bear the expenditure for the two witnesses who were asked to attend the hearing.

The case was appealed to the Election Commission who provided both parties to the case the opportunity of a hearing and reviewed the additional submissions that were made. The Commission has issued warning to the two key witnesses as they were found to be providing different statements to the authorities and to the complainants thereby causing disturbance and inconvenience in the small community.
The payment of compensation to the key witnesses for attending the hearing of the CEDSB was cancelled. The Commission upheld the CEDSB’s decision to issue warning and fine the 2 complainants the minimum wage for 1 month.
The Commission decided that the issue of Kado being in DPT’s membership list as submitted with the Letter of Intent, whereas Kado denied being a member or even registering as a member, and the possession of a “temporary card” issued by the DNT to Thinley Wangdi is to be dealt separately with the two Political Parties by Public Election Fund Division in due course of time.

 

Case #2: Complaint lodged by Nidup Zangpo against Yeshey Penjor, DNT candidate of Nubi-Tangsibji in Trongsa for his WeChat Statement
The Trongsa Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body (DEDSB) received the complaint on 19th of September 2018 alleging that Yeshey Penjor had circulated a message on WeChat that Indian Support to Bhutan would be compromised if DPT was elected. After the conduct of investigation and hearing, the Body found the Respondent in violation of the legal provisions and issued a warning and imposed a fine of minimum wage for two months.
The case is closed with no further appeal.

Case #3: Complaint Lodged by Chimi Dorji, Member of DNT against Sangay for allegedly threatening to kill him and Ngawang Dorji, member of DNT
The Pema Gatshel DEDSB received the complaint on 25th of September 2018. On investigation, it was found that Sangay under the influence of alcohol had threatened to kill Ngawang Dorji on 23rd September 2018. However, the investigation team found that the alleged threat to kill Chimi Dorji was a false allegation.
The DEDSB decided to issue warning to Chimi Dorji and Dorji Wangchuk for spreading malicious information on social media and Sangay Dorji was warned for creating nuisance under the influence of alcohol. The Body decided to give Clarification about the case for wrong information provided by Chimi Dorji on social media.
The case is closed with no further appeal.

Case #4: Complaint lodged by Sangay Phurba, General Secretary of DPT against Namgay Rinchen, DNT Coordinator of Punakha alleging the spread of false news through Social Media (WeChat)
The Office of Media Arbitrator (OMA) received the complaint on 2nd of October 2018. The CEDSB received the investigation report of OMA and conducted a hearing on 7th of October 2018. The Body, noting that the Respondent accepted that he sent the WeChat message and he did it as a citizen, issued a warning and imposed a fine of minimum wage for thirty days on him.
In order to deter and reduce similar kind of disputes in future, the respective Dzongkhag Social Media Monitors are to be added to both Parties’ social media groups available as discussed with both Parties.
The case is currently in the appeal period.

Case #5: Complaint lodged by Chorten Tshering, DPT Coordinator against Samten Wangdi, Registered member of DNT for his WeChat Statement
The complaint was lodged on 3rd of October 2018, in Trashi Yangtse and the DEDSB conducted hearing on 6th of October 2018. The Body has warned and imposed a fine of the minimum wage for thirty days to the Respondent.
The case is currently in the appeal period.

Case #6: Complaint lodged by Tshering Dorji, DPT Coordinator against Tendi Zangpo, Tshering Dargey and Kezang Norbu (Members of PDP) for their WeChat Statement
Samdrup Jongkhar DEDSB received the complaint on 3rd of October 2018 alleging the Respondents of undue influence and abetting disharmony. The Body found violation of Electoral Laws and imposed fine of minimum wage for thirty days for all the three respondents. The Body further reprimanded all the respondents not to spread false rumors and refrain from such comments during Election Period.
The Case is currently in the Appeal Period.

Case #7: Decision on Statement and Allegation by DPT’s Khar_Yurung Candidate Tshering Choden at the Public Debate; Case filed by the said Candidate; and Case filed by the DNT
The CEDSB received on 5th of October 2018, the complaint lodged by Tshering Choden, DPT Khar_Yurung candidate, alleging involvement of retired armed force personnel in influencing people to vote for Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa forwarded by the Pema Gatshel DEDSB. The second allegation of threat by black magic was investigated by RBP and found by the Pema Gatshel DEDSB as being a baseless and a warning was issued to the informant Aum Phomey.
While the case was under consideration the candidate during the live public debate on 5th of October 2018 stated that the Citizenship issue of fatherless children, including with non-national fathers, born to a Bhutanese mother is something that her party will solve and also alleged interference in the electoral process upon “Orders” from higher authorities on 6th of October 2018. She was provided opportunity to be heard by the Chief Election Coordinator and the Returning Officer (RO) and her explanations were duly received by the election authorities.
On 7th of October 2018, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa lodged a complaint against the candidate on her statement made in relation to “census” during the live public debate stating that it is a blatant act of undue influence; in violation of the Constitutional provision on Royal Prerogatives, the provision of the Election Act on Royal Patronage, undue influence; violating the code of conduct besides not being in the party manifesto.
The Election Commission, after thorough review and examination, decided to issue warning and impose a fine of the minimum wage for sixty days and restrain the candidate, her representative and party workers from campaigning for rest the of the campaigning period in the Constituency to ensure that ill-will is not instigated in the community through misleading and divisive messages.

Case #8: Complaint lodged by Ugyen Dorji, DNT Representative against Chhorten Tshering, DPT Coordinator for allegation of threatening life and harassment on phone call
The Samdrup Jongkhar DEDSB received the complaint on 8th of September 2018. The Body decided to dismiss the complaint as it was found not a Prima Facie Case.
The case is currently in the Appeal Period.

Case #9: Complaint lodged by Choeda Jamtsho, DPT candidate of Nganglam constituency against Namsey Wangdi, member of PDP for his statement on WeChat
The complaint was lodged on 8th October 2018. The DEDSB issued warning and imposed a penalty of the minimum wage of thirty days to Namsey Wangdi on 9th October 2018.
The case is currently in the Appeal Period.

 
Case #10: Complaint lodged by Dorji Gyeltshen, Kinley Wangdi and Passang Dorji (Members of DNT) against Cheku Wangyel of Nanong_Shumar Village under Pema Gatshel Dzongkhag for defamatory voice messages against DNT
The case was received and forwarded to the Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body by the Returning Officer of Nanong_Shumar Demkhong, Pema Gatshel Dzongkhag on 1st of October 2018.
The case is currently under Appeal Period.

 

 

With regard to Social Media, the Office of Media Arbitrator, including the 20 Dzongkhag Social Media Monitors and 2 National Social Media Monitors, have so far, for the Third Parliamentary Elections, followed up as follows:
During the Primary Round, 15 Facebook posts were found objectionable by the Monitors. Upon their communication, 3 were removed by the originating social media users and 4 removed by the Facebook authorities while 8 remained unresolved although taken up with Facebook authorities.

In the ongoing General Election, as of 11th of October 2018, 22 Facebook posts were found objectionable of which 4 were removed by the originating user, 6 were removed by the Facebook authorities and 12 are under process and being followed up.

The 20 Social Media Monitors are in the various WeChat groups of the respective Candidates, and Coordinators as deterrent measure although it is a challenge to monitor all WeChat groups which is mushrooming for various purposes.

 

 

Released for public information

Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan

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