Obstruction of electoral subjects
Obstruction of electoral subjects
Obstruction means any illegal behavior using various means and ways that impose the competent entities to avoid respecting the electoral law during the election period. Elements that individuals can use to disrupt the regular conduct of elections can be exercised violently against electoral subjects to force them not to go to the polls on election day or deprive them of the right to vote.
To complete the interpretation of the concept of “obstruction” used in Article 325 of the CCR is not limited to that of violence but can also be realized through fraud, to make it possible for the electoral subject not to respect his obligation as a citizen to exercise of the right to vote or to be elected to representative bodies.
Another way that is punished by the provision in question is when the obstruction is committed by stealing the documents needed to cast the ballot, and in the absence of which, this right cannot be exercised. Criminal liability lies in every subject to which a function or competence has been attributed during the electoral process, as well as any other person who has reached the age of majority and is responsible.
The criminal offense must have been committed intentionally, i.e., desire and awareness. The person’s will is sufficient to apply Article 325 KPRSH, regardless of the circumstances, purpose, or elements that, in this case, are not crucial for the qualification of the criminal offense. Simultaneously, the passive subject is unique because it is a limited category that is electoral subjects and not for every issue.
Punishment: Anyone who commits the criminal offense of obstruction by force or any other means of normal development of the electoral system against electoral subjects is punishable by three years in prison. Law no. 74/2012 has changed the punitive measure of article 325 KPRSH, providing the only imprisonment. While the previous law stipulated “…… punishment with a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years ….”. It is clear that the legislator, based on previous experiences where often the violations of Article 325 CC were violations, the perpetrators passed with the lowest sentence, which under the previous law was adequate. At the same time, the most insufficient measure is deprivation of liberty, up to three years.
So, we have an increase in the punitive measure of criminal responsibility. Through threat, violence, or use of any other illegal element, any individual seeks to hinder electoral subjects in the regular exercise of duties recognized by law for the free and democratic development of elections. We can say that there have been cases of accusations from the district prosecutions for violation of Article 325 CC over the years; the last issue was the case of the accusers from the Tirana District Prosecutor’s Office, JP, and SS, who in May 2013 were charged by this prosecutor’s office for obstructing electoral subjects, because they had removed the electoral flags of some political parties.
Also, in the last parliamentary elections (June 2013), we have the case of Fier where a person on June 16, 2013, was declared wanted on charges of obstructing electoral subjects because he had hit the citizen SH of a political force, precisely to threaten and thus hindering the ordinary course of the election campaign.