Are elections held in an Unlevel Playing Field is Free? Fair?

What is the golden rule that should exist in any sport? All competitors compete on an equal playing field. Elections are also a sport in a democratic country. Its competitors are candidates. However, no such level playing field has been created for the forthcoming elections in this country. Is it a dream to find such a level playing field as long as election campaign finance is not regulated?
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) cordially invites you to join us for the first  webinar discussion on ” Importance of Regulating Election Campaign Finance to create a level playing field in Elections in Sri Lanka” 

The webinar discussion will be on the 29th of November commencing at 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm, in the Tamil language with the participation of Parliamentarians and prominent political women activists. 
We would greatly value your participation and contribution to the discussion  We kindly request you to join us 15 minutes prior to the session. 


Please connect via the following  link:https://streamyard.com/u5uqwpw2i4

History of the Institute of Election Management in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a distinguished history of election management. The number of national and local level elections held so far since the country gained universal suffrage is about 74. Until 2015, the Department of Elections was the authority to hold elections in this country. The Election Commission was then established. The said Election Commission is due to end its term on November 13, 2020. Therefore, here is an Infographic compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) showing the tenure of the officials responsible for the conduct of the elections from the time of the commencement of the formal elections in the country to the present day.

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මැතිවරණ ඉතිහාසය

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට මැතිවරණ කළමනාකරණය පිළිබඳව ඇත්තේ කීර්තිමත් ඉතිහාසයකි. මෙරටට සර්වජන ජන්ද බලය ලැබීමෙන් අනතුරුව මෙතෙක් පවත්වා ඇති ජාතික හා ප්‍රාදේශීය මට්ටමේ මැතිවරණ සංඛ්‍යාව 74 ක් පමණ වේ. වසර 2015 වන තෙක්ම මෙරටේ මැතිවරණ පැවැත්වීමේ බළධාරීත්වය දරන ලද්දේ මැතිවරණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවයි. අනතුරුව මැතිවරණ කොමිෂන් සභාව ස්ථාපිත කරන ලදි. එකී කොමිසම එළඹෙන නොවැම්බර් මස 13 වැනි දින තම කාල සීමාව අවසන් කිරීමට නියමිතය. එබැවින් මෙහි පළවන්නේ මැතිවරණ ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා නිරීක්ෂණ මධ්‍යස්ථානය (CMEV) මෙරටේ විධිමත් මැතිවරණ පැවැත්වීම ඇරඹුණු සමයේ පටන් අද දක්වා මැතිවරණ පැවැත්වීමේ වගකීම උරදැරූ නිළධරයන් අදාළ ධූර දැරූ කාල සීමා දක්වමින් සකස්කරන ලද දළ සැකසුමකි.

Download Infographic in here

Parliamentary Election 2020 – Media coverage on CMEV Election Observation Process

The media is a stakeholder that can never be excluded in any country in which democratic elections are conducted. Regardless of whether the media entity is conventional and mainstream or alternative and new, media behavior indisputably affects the integrity of any election. Continued election observation undertaken by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) over several decades in Sri Lanka has strongly proven that the role of the media in the electoral process in the country is decisive.

While there is an ongoing discussion concerning the role of the media in this country, what is of utmost significance is establishing practices where the strong connectivity between the media and elections can be considered together, rather than allowing the media to be considered as a factor detached from the electoral process.

Accordingly, the objective of this small booklet designed and published by CMEV is to provide a glimpse of the nature of reporting carried out by mainstream newspapers during the election period. This reporting carried news and perspectives on the election to voters as the campaign unfolded. Sri Lankan newspapers have wide and increasing circulation across the country and thus have the power of informing and shaping the views of society, across any issue connected to elections. What is collated in this publication is the perspectives of a diverse range of newspapers having such circulation during the election.

පාර්ලිමේන්තු මැතිවරණය 2020 – මැතිවරණ ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා නිරීක්ෂණ මධ්‍යස්ථානය හා සබැඳි මාධ්‍ය වාර්තාකරණය 

ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රීය  භාවිතයක් සහිත මැතිවරණ ක්‍රමවේදයක් අනුදත් කවර රාජ්‍යයක හෝ මාධ්‍ය යනු කිසිලෙසකත් බැහැර කල නොහැකි පාර්ශ්වකරුවෙකි. සම්ප්‍රදායික හෝ නව මාධ්‍ය වේවා එකී කවර මාධ්‍යයක හෝ හැසිරීම නිසැකව ම මැතිවරණයේ සුපිළිපන්නබව කෙරෙහි බලපෑමක් ඇති කරන්නේය. මෑත කාලීනව ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ද මැතිවරණ ක්‍රියාවලිය තුළ දිස්වන මාධ්‍ය භූමිකාව අතිශය තීරණාත්මක බව මැතිවරණ ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා නිරීක්ෂණ මධ්‍යස්ථානය (CMEV) අඛණ්ඩව සිදුකරමින් තිබෙන මාධ්‍ය නිරීක්ෂණ හමුවේ තහවුරු වන කරුණකි.

එකී මාධ්‍ය හැසිරීම පිලිබඳව  දැනටමත් මෙරටේ යම් සමාජ කථිකාවක් නිර්මාණය වෙමින් තිබෙන අතර වඩාත් වැදගත් සාධකය වන්නේ මාධ්‍ය තවදුරටත් මැතිවරණ ක්‍රියාවලියෙන් වියුක්ත සාධකයක් ලෙස නොසලකා මැතිවරණ කෙරෙහි එහි පවත්නා අවියෝජනීය සබඳතාව වඩාත් සවිමත් වන ආකාරයේ භාවිතාවක් වෙත අවතීර්ණ වීමයි.  

එහිලා මැ.ප්‍ර.නි. මධ්‍යස්ථානය මඟින් ප්‍රකාශිත මෙම කුඩා ප්‍රමාණයේ ප්‍රකාශනයෙහි අරමුණ වන්නේ සම්ප්‍රදායික එනම් මුද්‍රිත මාධ්‍ය මැතිවරණ සමයේ සිදුකරන ලද වාර්තාකරණයේ හැඩරුව පිලිබඳ මැතිවරණ කෙරෙහි ආශක්ත පිරිස වෙත යම් හැඟීම් මාත්‍රයක්  ලබා දීමයි. ජන්දදායකයන් දැනුම්වත් කිරීම මතු නොව මැතිවරණ හා සබැඳි ඕනෑම ආකාරයක තේමාවක් පිලිබඳ සමාජය අවදි කිරීමෙහිලා පුවත්පත් සතු අසහාය බලයට අභියෝග කිරීම එතරම් පහසු කාර්යයක් නොවේ. මෙකී ප්‍රකාශණය තුළින් ද විද්‍යමාන වන්නේ මෙරටේ ප්‍රචලිත විවිධ මට්ටමේ පුවත්පත් මැතිවරණය කෙරෙහි දක්වා ඇති ආකල්පයෙහි හරස්කඩකි.

Download in here

Code of Conduct for candidates and Media Guidelines for election gazetted

An extraordinary gazette notification containing the Code of Conduct for contesting political parties, independent groups and candidates of the elections has been published.

The Election Commission said the relevant Code of Conduct is issued in terms of Section 8(8) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981 as amended by the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Act, No. 58 of 2009.

Download Code of Conduct for Contesting Political Parties/Independent Groups And Candidates of the Elections in Sinhala / Tamil / English

Download Media Guidelines in Sinhala / Tamil / English

COVID-19 and Elections: ANFREL and Sri Lankan election organisations release a Code of Conduct for election observers

ANFREL and six domestic election observation groups, including ANFREL members PAFFREL and CMEV, release today the “COVID-19 Code of Conduct for Election Observers” ahead of the 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections.

This document is a joint initiative from organizations both domestic and international intending to observe the parliamentary elections of Sri Lanka. The polls were initially scheduled for 25 April 2020 but have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the country. While the date at which the elections could be held remains uncertain, pending a ruling from the Supreme Court on the matter, election monitoring organizations have decided to plan ahead and draft guidelines so that election observation may take place in the most responsible manner.

Download Statement in Sinhala

Download Statement in Tamil

Download Statement in English

“Working Amid a Global Pandemic” – CMEV activities update

This document first provides an overview of some of the interventions made by CMEV in this period. It also details media coverage of CMEV’s activities and interventions. Finally, the document provides a snapshot of activity on CMEV’s official website and Facebook pages, as indicators of CMEV’s online operations during this period.

Download Report in here

CMEV Letter to Election Commission on Department of Samurdhi Development Misusing Voter List

Complaint letter CMEV lodged with the Election Commission about the Director-General of Department of Samurdhi Development misusing voter lists released for COVID-19 relief programmes to campaign illegally. CMEV is still awaiting a response.

Download Letter in Sinhala

Download Letter in English

Considerations for Holding an Election During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This short guide has been prepared by CMEV to offer election stakeholders and voters a brief overview of some key considerations for holding an election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It provides an outline of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected elections worldwide; special health and safety measures taken for elections already held worldwide; and important factors to note in the SriLankan electoral context. It is hoped that these considerations are taken into account by all election stakeholders when decisions are made regarding the Parliamentary General Election in Sri Lanka.

Download guide in here

Parliamentary Election 2020 – Joint Announcement of Election Monitoring Organizations

All active election observation missions in Sri Lanka, including CMEV, have issued a joint statement urging all relevant authorities to resolve their issues regarding a new election date with the mutual understanding of not creating a constitutional crisis against the backdrop of COVID19

The joint statement points out that:

  • It is undesirable to head into an election with the Election Commission and the Executive at odds with each other
  • An environment of relief provision to those affected by crisis is not ideal for an election campaign as it can be exploited by candidates for their own political gain, as can already be seen
  • The National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak and health authorities must confirm that the new election date will not put voters and election officials at risk

Download this Statement in Sinhala

Download this Statement in Tamil

Download this Statement in English

CMEV writes to Presidential Task Force on COVID-19

CMEV wrote to Presidential Task Force on COVID19 head Basil Rajapaksa on appointing members for local relief distribution Committees under Circular PTF 03/2020. This process excludes the 40% of reps elected in 2018 Local Govt Elections through lists without fixed electorateshese reps are disproportionately women due to the function of the new mixed election system & the women’s quota. CMEV requested at least the runners up in electorate contests and especially list-level women reps to be included in the Committees.

Download this Letter in Sinhala

Download this in Tamil

CMEV Letter to National Police Commission on Police Transfers During Election Period

March 06, 2020

Mr. Nishantha A. Weerasinghe,
Secretary,
National Police Commission,
Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall Premises,
Block 9,
Colombo 07

Dear Secretary,

Transfers of commissioned and other Police officers during the election period

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) would like to express its appreciation of Sri Lanka Police as one of the key stakeholders of the election process in this country during the previous Presidential Election in 2019. We strongly believe that in the context of the upcoming General Election, Sri Lanka Police will perform its duties in a similarly commendable manner to ensure a free and fair election.

To this end, one of the most decisive factors is creating a conducive background for all police officers working in various locations across the country to be able to perform their duties and responsibilities in an independent manner without any undue influence.

Several reports we have received so far indicate that this policy is not being completely followed. This includes the apparent plans to transfer Mr. Uchith Liyanage, Senior Superintendent of Police of Seethawaka area and place as the Deputy Director of the Women and Child Bureau. Our reports indicate that he is to be replaced by Mr. Sudath Wedamulla, Senior Superintendent of Police who was recently appointed as a Personal Assistant of a Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police after being transferred from Anuradhapura.

In the face of a national level election, CMEV emphasises that any alleged attempts of transferring will be a direct violation of the explicit guidelines provided by the Election Commission. As per usual electoral processes in Sri Lanka, the Police must also consult the Election Commission before any such transfer. In the past when neither the National Police Commission nor the Election Commission had been established, the Department of Elections and the Department of Police jointly managed these kinds of situations in a very coordinated and supportive manner. The work accomplished through such coordination had generated better results too. We also trust that the Inspector General of Police (Acting) has enormous experience of similar essential transfers done in a well-coordinated manner.

Thus, we strongly expect the National Police Commission to pay your kind attention to rectify any such transfers that have either already taken place or will take place. It is the absolute responsibility of the National Police Commission to ensure the independent functioning of the Police service during elections. CMEV also notes that numerous baseless and unanticipated allegations against independent Commissions are being made in the current climate. It is the sole responsibility of the Commissions to build and strengthen their reputations. The National Police Commission can do that here by taking strong, principled decisions and promoting independent practices within Sri Lanka Police in a careful, professional and just manner.

Finally, CMEV will extend our fullest support for any decisions your Commission will take in order to protect and enhance the integrity of electoral processes of this country.

Your attention for above mentioned matters will be highly appreciated.

Manjula Gajanayake,
National Coordinator,
CMEV

Copied to:

  • Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairman, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. H.M.T.D. Herath, Secretary, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. C.D. Wickramarathne, Inspector General of Police (Acting) Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.
  • Mr. Saman Sri Rathnayake, Commissioner General, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Priyantha Weerasooriya, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (Elections), Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.
  • Mr. Suranga Ranashinghe, Assistant Election Commissioner, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Ashoka Dharmasena, Senior Superintendent of Police (Director-Elections), Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.

CMEV Letter to Election Commission on Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Director and Public Officials Engaging in Illegal Election Campaigning

March 06, 2020


Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya,
Chairperson,
Election Commission,
Election Secretariat Office,
Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.

Dear Mr. Deshapriya,

Public Officials Engaging in Illegal Election Campaigning

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) would like to express its appreciation of the Election Commission for some positive decisions that have been already taken based on certain incidents in relation to the upcoming General Election. 

We believe that, similar to the last Presidential Election, there will be a rise in public officials engaging in election campaigning and making undue interventions which contravene their functions.

CMEV wishes to highlight one such incident regarding the Director of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, Doctor A.M.S. Weerabandara, who has been engaging in election campaigning in a very biased and ethnically divisive manner while still remaining a public official.

The extensive efforts being taken by the Election Commission to ensure the integrity of the election process is challenged and put at a high risk by activity such as the above being done without receiving appropriate leave or by terminating the current employment for the purpose of promoting various political parties.

Section 01 of Chapter 32 of the Establishment Code of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, provides limitations through sub-sections 1.1, 1.2.3 and 1.3 on staff officers not being entitled to enjoy political rights, specifically on the establishment of election candidacy or executing initial actions for the purpose of election candidacy. These provisions have been violated by the Director’s actions.

We urge the Election Commission to take immediate action to initiate an investigation on the conduct of the said Director who should be aware of the limitations imposed on a staff officer yet has intentionally both violated the election law and disregarded the medical profession’s rules and regulations related to the public service for the purpose of political gains.  

We urge the Election Commission to use for an investigation:

  • Enclosed observation notes and records compiled by CMEV
  • Acknowledgement by the Director himself that he engaged in such election campaigning
  • The Director’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DrSarath-Weerabandara-105479324381092/
  • An article published in the Ravaya newspaper on March 05, 2020 titled “Hospital Director Disdains the Law”

Your attention and action on this matter will be highly appreciated.

Manjula Gajanayake,
National Coordinator,
CMEV

Copied to:

  • Mr. H.M.T.D. Herath, Secretary, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Saman Sri Rathnayake, Commissioner General, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Suranga Ranashinghe, Assistant Election Commissioner, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.