The Bougainville Referendum Commission has opened the application period for groups wishing to apply for recognition as an Interest Group and for the appointment of scrutineers. The period is now open and closes on 6 October.
The Organic Law defines an Interested Party as the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Recognised Interest Groups. Only these Interested Parties can nominate scrutineers for the Bougainville Referendum.
Chief Referendum Officer Mauricio Claudio said under the law, Recognised Interest Groups provide an official way for non-governmental organizations, political parties and civil society groups supporting either choice – greater autonomy or independence - to appoint scrutineers during polling, transportation of the ballot boxes to the count centre and scrutiny.
“In a referendum, scrutineers take the role of candidate agents, but during the polling and counting process only,” Mr Claudio said.
“They help ensure the referendum is conducted in a transparent, neutral way, where voting and counting is conducted freely and fairly.”
“Scrutineers have no formal role in campaigning, instead, like observers and the media, they help the BRC to ensure that polling, counting and therefore the referendum result, is credible.”
“The only privilege that the law confers on Recognised Interest Groups is to appoint scrutineers to monitor the transportation of ballot papers, polling and the scrutiny/count.”
Scrutineers are different to observers because they can ask specific questions to voters through the presiding officer during the polling and counting process – which observers cannot. These questions and the process for asking them are set out in the Organic Law.
The two governments are also entitled to appoint scrutineers and the BRC has written letters of invitation to both governments. The Code of Conduct for Scrutineers applies equally to both Recognised Interest Groups and government scrutineers.
As part of accreditation, all Recognised Groups and their scrutineers will be provided a briefing, and must sign and follow a BRC Code of Conduct for Scrutineers.Groups will be responsible for meeting all costs related to their own scrutineering.
For information, criteria and forms: www.bougainville-referendum.org/scrutineers
Further information – criteria for recognition
The application for Recognition Form BRC321 requires following:
· The name, address and contact details of the group/organisation wishing to field scrutineers
· The name and contact details of the head of the organisation
· The type of organisation
· The name and contact details of the liaison officer of the organisation, to whom all correspondence from the BRC will be addressed
· Type of organisation (NGO, CSO, Not formally recognised as CSO or NGO).
· How the group is structured
· The source of the group’s funds
· Where the group is based in Papua New Guinea(group must be based in PNG)
· Group officers and those individuals proposed to be appointed as scrutineers must be eligible to vote in PNG national elections
· Groups must specify which of the two options in the referendum their group is in support of
· Groups must specify the particular geographic space they wish to be recognised for
· Groups must specify if they wish to be recognised for the poll, the scrutiny or both processes
· Groups must indicate their proposed total number of scrutineers and specify scrutineers for the two different processes (poll orscrutiny) to avoid overcrowding at the scrutiny
· Groups must indicate their general geographic locations.
 Organic Law on Peace-Building in Bougainville-Autonomous BougainvilleGovernment and Bougainville Referendum 2002,available on the BRC website.