Limitations on campaign finance and disclosure of assets and liabilities: A series of regional dialogues

In addition to the contributions made by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in critical engagement with the election observation processes in Sri Lanka, it has simultaneously been contributing to the electoral reform process in the country. As part of these overall functions, CMEV has initiated a series of discussions with the intention of enhancing an island wide public discourse on “Limitations on Campaign Finance and the disclosure of assets and liabilities”.

Imposing limitations on campaign finance and the disclosure of assets are not merely isolated elements of the overall electoral process. They are obviously factors that play a pivotal and decisive role of any election. Additionally, these factors assist safeguarding the overall integrity of the electoral process while creating an equal playing field for all election candidates. While most of the countries across the globe have been effectively working in and around identifying and adopting appropriate approaches connected to restricting campaign finance; it is a welcoming situation in Sri Lanka having initiated a public discourse on the same matter during the recent past.

Therefore, contributing to the said initiative, Centre for Monitoring Violence (CMEV) organized nine regional level public discussions on the ‘Campaign expenditure and on declarations of assets and liabilities’ at different nine locations across the country since 29th April – 01st June 2017.

This discussion series was organized by CMEV in partnership with Transparency International Sri Lanka with the assistance of local organizations as well as CMEV field and District Coordinators. Candidates willing to contest upcoming local government election – women candidates in particular, Activists and key members of civil society organizations attended in the said series of discussions.

Deputy Commissioner of Local Government (retired) Mr. N. A. Dharmasiri, National Coordinator of CMEV Manjula Gajanayake, and Researcher of CMEV Hashanie Chitranganie were the speakers at these discussions while the Senior Programme Manager of TISL Sashee de Mel attended representing TISL.

Details of discussions and key stakeholders involved

Date Location Individual/Local Partners engaged
29th April 2017 Royal Nest Hotel, Bendiwewa, Polonnaruwa Mothers & Daughters of Lanka (MDL)
13th May 2017 WODEPT Community Centre, Puttalam Child Vision Sri Lanka-Disability Rights –

Puttalam

14th May 2017 Lake Front Rest, Kanthale, Trincomalee National Collaboration Development Foundation(NCDF)
16th May 2017 Green Garden Hotel, Batticaloa CAMID – Batticaloa
20th May 2017 Ruby Hotel,  Monaragala Community Development Centre,

Monaragala

21st May 2017 Viharamahadevi Human Development Centre,  Hambantota Sri Lankan Young Voice Foundation,

Hambanthota

22nd May 2017 Divisional Secretariat Office, Ratnapura FRIDSRO, Kandy
24th May 2017 Aradhana Hotel, Galle CMEV Field Co-ordinator, Akmeemana
01st June 2017 Oak Ray Hotel, Kandy Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government

Authorities

 Current Situation and Legal Background:

The current legal background regarding the limitation of campaign finances in Sri Lanka as well as the challenges encountered in implementing the law on declaration of assets and liabilities related to elections were focused much in these discussions.  Additionally, there was a special attention to explore the possibility of ensuring accountability and transparency of political culture of the country by using the existing legal provisions on declaration of assets and liabilities in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, apart from those core topics, participants were given an opportunity to propose their suggestions on as to how to make sure of formulation and implementation of regulatory mechanism for the limitation of campaign finances. Thus, viewpoints of participants were taken with regard to the regulation of provision of funds by the political parties during the election period which so far has created an adverse effect on the integrity of the electoral process currently being practiced in Sri Lanka.

Two Day Training Workshop on the Role of Police in Elections

The two day training workshop titled ‘The role of Police Officers in Elections’ was held at Renuka City hotel Colombo 03, on 30th and 31st May 2017.

This workshop was organised by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), in partnership with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka and the Election Branch of Sri Lanka Police. The curriculum of this programme was specifically designed for police officers involved in election process and included some important aspects of electoral process such as principles of election security, election observation and opportunities to mitigate electoral violence. Over 40 senior police officers attended this programme.

CMEV is organizing a series of training workshops for police officers who are engaged in election duties in partnership with Election Commission and Election Unit of the Sri Lanka Police.

Regional Dialogues: Limitations on campaign finance and disclosure of assets and liabilities

In addition to the contributions made by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in critical engagement with the election observation processes in Sri Lanka, it has simultaneously been contributing to the electoral reform process too in the country. As part of these overall functions; CMEV has initiated a series of discussions with the intention of enhancing an Island wide public discourse on “limitations on campaign finance and the disclosure of assets and liabilities”.

Imposing limitations on campaign finance and the disclosure of asserts are not merely isolated elements of the overall electoral process. They are obviously factors that play a pivotal and decisive role of any election. Additionally, these factors assist safeguarding the overall integrity of the electoral process while creating an equal playing field for all election candidates. While most of the countries across the globe have been effectively working in and around identifying and adopting appropriate approaches connected to restricting campaign finance; it is a welcoming situation in Sri Lanka having initiated a public discourse on the same matter during the recent past.

Therefore, contributing to the said initiative, Centre for Monitoring Violence (CMEV) organized a public discussion on the ‘campaign expenditure and on declarations of assets and liabilities’ at the Royal Nest Hotel, Polonnaruwa on 29th April 2017. The discussion was organized by CMEV in partnership with Transparency International Sri Lanka  and a number of civil society organizations along with candidates willing to contest upcoming Local Government election.

Mr. N.A. Dharmasiri, Deputy Commissioner of Local Government (retired) , Manjula  Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV and Hashanie Chitranganie, Researcher of CMEV were speakers at this event.

A guide on facilitation of voting rights for out-of-country voters

CMEV has taken a new initiative to identify and facilitate the voting rights of migrant workers in Sri Lanka that amounts to over two million persons. As one of the major contributing source to the national income through foreign revenue, the need to facilitate their inalienable right to participate in the political decision-making process has been recognized and addressed by a comprehensive document compiled with this regard. It encompasses the pertinent legal background and numerous methods utilized in other countries to avail out-of-country voters with facilities to exercise their right to vote.

Download the guide in EnglishSinhala and Tamil.

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Guide document on Political rights and Representation of Persons with disabilities and the Electoral Process

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence is the first election observing organization in Sri Lanka that spearheaded numerous initiatives beneficial to the realization of voting rights of persons with disabilities with the auspices of  the Election Commission of Sri Lanka. CMEV has produced a comprehensive document combining the disability classification, rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka and  legal provisions to facilitate their political rights in line with the electoral process of Sri Lanka.

Download the document in EnglishSinhala and Tamil.

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Policy brief on political rights and representation of persons with disabilities

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), as the very first election observing organization in Sri Lanka that spearheaded numerous initiatives beneficial to the realization of voting rights of the persons with disabilities with the auspices of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, has been able to reach out to over 250 representatives of  leading Disabled Persons’ Organizations from over 20 districts around the country and obtain their input regarding the issues faced by them concerning the electoral process.

The focal point on persons with disabilities and older persons, that has been appointed by the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, also took part in these consultative discussions where the issues of the said DPOs were presented and suitable recommendations deliberated with the relevant stakeholders related to the electoral process.

Download the report in English here and Sinhala here.

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Consultation for Policy Brief on Political Rights of Persons with Disabilities- Sabaragamuwa Province Discussion

CMEV has been engaging in various initiatives of empowering disability organizations to achieve the rights related to voting and political representation of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka, with special emphasis to voting rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and to create an inclusive discourse with that regard, ensuring that the popular disability related slogan ‘’’Nothing about us without us’’ is given its true meaning. To this effect, CMEV has been conducting a series of programs aimed at the realization of political / voting rights of PwDs, in parallel with both National level Elections held in 2015 as well.
As a part of the newest chapter of the said initiatives, the fifth consultative discussion was held on the 30th January 2017 in partnership with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka and the FRIDSRO Sri Lanka. Key representatives of DPOs in Sabaragamuwa Province took part in this occasion.

The Additional Commissioner of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Mr. Saman Ratnayake, who has been appointed as the focal point to identify and resolve disability-related issues in the electoral process, also   attended this event as the main resource person, representing the Election Commission.  Mr.G.D.N.De Silva, Assistant Commissioner of Election Commission of Sri Lanka also participated in this event.  Hashanie Chithranganie and Janitha Rukmal, two Researchers of CMEV also addressed the gathering.  National Co-ordinator of CMEV Manjula Gajanayake was the facilitator of the event.