Letter to Election Commission
ARBITRARY AND ILLEGAL TAMPERING WITH REGISTERED VOTER LISTS 2019
It has been brought to our notice, by reliable persons who have been unfairly penalized, that certain Grama Niladharis, especially in the Colombo District, have arbitrarily removed the names of long-standing residents from their respective voter lists. Since these householders have duly completed the voter registration forms for 2018 accurately and in time, and since they have been on the voter lists at the same residential address for many years and have voted in all of the elections during the past decade and more, they were shocked and dismayed to learn that their names had been deleted from the relevant registered voter list for the residence they have occupied uninterrupted for many years. On inquiry they were informed that there is nothing that can be done at this stage, even though they were not provided with any reasons for the deletion of their names. This unacceptable situation is further exacerbated by the fact that the online voter list on your official website is not currently functioning.
Individual voters have lodged complaints with the Elections Commission, and we request you to make a formal public response to the allegations that they have made. Specifically, it is incumbent on you to publicly clarify the following in order to mitigate the lack of credibility in the system that this has generated, especially among older voters who are unable to visit the Elections Secretariat to verify if their names are still on the list:
- Provide an explanation for the exclusion of these names from the relevant voter lists, and make sure that there is a redress mechanism that will permit them to vote on the 16th.
- Explain the due process by which errant Grama Niladharis are to be held accountable for these deliberate omissions.
- Ensure that the online voter registration list is operational with immediate effect
Given the urgency of the situation and the need for immediate redress to ensure that the affected persons are not deprived of their franchise, we urge you to inform the general public as well by way of extensive publicity in all the appropriate channels.
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Presidential Election 2019 Media Communiqué, 25th October 2019
Colombo, Sri Lanka
During the 36 days which have elapsed since the announcement of the presidential election of Sri Lanka, CMEV has recorded 464 verified incidents of election law violations. The highest number of incidents have been reported from Western and Southern provinces. Among those complaints 198 incidents were reported against New Democratic Front (NDF) and 186 incidents against the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). It is critical to observe that around 16 incidents of violence including assault and threats have been reported thus far.
The following are some of the trends that have been observed over the last seven days in relation to the pre-election period:
Governors of several provinces have been involved in presidential election campaigns in support of candidates while misusing state resources for campaigning
Provincial governors have been involved in campaigning promoting presidential candidates while serving as the representatives of President and chairing Provincial Public Service Commission. A.J.M Musammil, Peshala Jayarathna and Hemal Gunasekara, serving as the governors of Western, North Western and Southern Provinces respectively, are misusing resources belonging to their respective Provincial Councils to promote the SLPP candidate.
Incidents relating to threats and assaults
Particular attention should be given to the critical situation where numerous politicians have threatened and used verbal abuse against supporters of opposition parties. This has occurred especially at the regional level.
Usage of social media during the pre- election period.
It is difficult to ignore the fact that the authorities of Facebook have not been proactive in promptly responding to the measures taken by the Election Commission in curbing the spread of hate speech and disinformation. This is in spite of social media networks such as Facebook playing a critical role in disseminating information pertaining to elections. CMEV has closely observed the negative direction towards which the contributions of social media networks such as Facebook is headed. This is despite their potential to be immensely instrumental in the progress of the electoral process of Sri Lanka. CMEV believes that a broader social discourse must be created around Facebook’s reliance on the community standards set out by their own institution. Facebook’s inconsistencies in applying the standards and failure to deal with the language complexities in Sri Lanka is greatly exacerbating the spread of hate speech and misinformation during the election. This is crucial particularly in because Sri Lanka is moving towards a period where several elections are to be held within a close period.
Accordingly, CMEV is in the process of compiling a comprehensive report on the role that has been adopted by social media institutions in light of the upcoming presidential election. This report will be published by the end of the presidential election.
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Presidential Election 2019 Media Communiqué, 29th October 2019
Colombo, Sri Lanka
In the 40 days since the announcement of the 2019 Presidential Election, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has recorded 534 verified incidents of election law violations. The following trends have been particularly observable recently:
Using minors for political promotions
The election period has seen the continued use of minors in various ways to promote the presidential candidates. The National Child Protection Authority has already made it clear that it is wrong to use minors for political promotion.
In the following cases and instances, the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) and the New Democracy Front (NDF) have directly violated these legal provisions:
- Use of minors in school uniform for a propaganda advertisement of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the presidential candidate of SLPP.
- Use of a school uniformed minor for the newspaper advertisement of SLPP.
- Use of minors in the the photograph of Mangala Samaraweera, Minister and representative of the NDF election campaign, and circulating that picture on social media.
- Use of a child with body paint for political promotion at a SLPP rally in Uva Paranagama on 25th October 2019.
- Use of minors’ pictures in the website of SLPP candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
CMEV has already made a written complaint to the National Child Protection Authority regarding these matters.
Using Government School Premises for Election Campaigns
CMEV was informed that the SLPP attempted to use the Galenbindunu Wewa primary school ground for a public rally with the direct intervention of the North Central Province Governor. This is despite there being numerous available places for holding public rallies in the Anuradhapura Gallenbindunu Wewa town.
use of government school premises for campaign purposes and the intervention of
high level public officials sets entirely the wrong precedent.
Not displaying election candidate and symbol during campaigning
The SLPP reportedly did not display its candidate and its ballot symbol in the pandol (thoarana) which was built in Minuwangoda town along the road, but photographs of the party leader and other regional organisers have been displayed. According to election law, it is illegal to display the pictures of the candidate and symbol.
Engaging in election campaigns that disturbed to religious and national reconciliation
During the election period, a number of campaign activities, especially by the Podu Jana Eksath Peramuna, demonstrate extremist national and religious views in various forms. For example, a female councilor in Kandy was arrested while spreading leaflets with extremist opinions. That leaflet was a violation of section 85 of the Presidential Election Act, No. 15 of 1981 meaning that the leaflet did not display the publisher and printer.
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12 hours, 20th October 2019, Colombo, Sri Lanka – Assault on supporters of the New Democratic Front, Western Province, Kaluthara District, Panadaura Electorate.
As reported to CMEV last night, on 19th October 2019 an SLPP supporter has assaulted two supporters of New Democratic Front. It was further reported to CMEV that the aforesaid supporter has intimidated those two supporters of NDF by showing a light fire arm in his possession.
This is the first instance of intimidation in the presidential election where a light fire arm has been used, following the submission of nominations on 7th of October.
The two NDF supporters, M.S. Nihalsinghe and Nawarathna Banda, were intimidated by the show of a light fire arm while passing the Wadduwa cemetery by Sisira Mendis, a supporter of Sri Lanka Pudujana Peramuna. As reported to CMEV he has arrived at the scene by a Pajero bearing the number plate CAA 1544. As disclosed to CMEV by Nihalsinghe who had been subjected to the assault, Sisira Mendis has been under the influence of alcohol at the time in which the assault took place.
Furthermore M.S. Nihalsinghe, who was assaulted has made a complaint to Wadduwa Police station regarding this incident under CIB 2’27/153. There is a possibility of suspicions arising due to this incident not being reported as an election related complaint in spite of the conclusive evidence of its affiliation with elections.
It has been further reported to CMEV that although this incident involves an intimidation carried out using light fire arm, the suspect has been bailed out shortly without any difficulty.
While making a statement to CMEV, Nihalsinghe mentioned that Sisira Mendis who has been accused for the assault is a strong supporter of SLPP SLPP and the fact that he clearly mentioned the involvement of the light fire arm in the said incident during his statement given to the police. Upon further probing the matter further with this regard, however, CMEV learnt from the OIC of Wadduwa police station that M.S. Nihalinghe had not mentioned the involvement of the light fire arm in his statement given to the police.
It is the view of CMEV that the perpetuation of violence and assault by the supporters of different political parties in various locations should not be treated as isolated incidents in a context where a decrease can be seen with regard to the election related violence in Sri Lanka. CMEV wishes to emphasise that political leaders as well as regional politicians must extend their fullest support towards the concerted efforts of the Election Commission and Sri Lanka Police in order to ensure a free and fair election.
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Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairperson, Mr. Naleen Abesekara, PC, Member, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, Member,
Election Commission of Sri Lanka,
Dear Mr. Chairperson and Members of the Election Commission,
Promotion of Political Candidates and Political Parties by Staff Officers and Government Officials
We believe that the interventions of your esteemed Commission have considerably mitigated the negative trend of staff officers and other government officials engaging in promoting and demoting political parties and candidates as well as expressing their personal political views during the upcoming presidential election.
In this context, we wish to bring to your attention that the chairperson of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, attended a political promotion campaign event held by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the presidential candidate of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), at the Nelumpokuna Auditorium on 25/10/2019. The event was for the launch of Mr. Rajapaksa’s election manifesto, and Dr. Padeniya was seen attending the main plenary.
This conduct is not only in defiance of the Establishment Code of Sri Lanka which must be abided by all government officials, but is also in violation of Circular No. 01, 6 (II) dated 18/09/2019 issued by the Election Commission. We are of the view that the pre-election period leading up to the presidential election will be severely compromised if staff officers of other government services consider this as a precedent and follow the same conduct.
Accordingly, we wish to request the Commission under your direction to take the necessary measures pertaining to the aforesaid matters with immediate effect. The kind cooperation extended by your institution in this regard, to uphold democratic values and to ensure a free and fair election, is greatly appreciated.
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence.
- Mr. Dharmasena Dissanayake, Chairperson, Public Service Commission, Battaramulla
- Mrs. Vasantha Perera, Secretary, Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Colombo 10
- Mr. Jagath Abeysiriwardhana, Senior Deputy Inspector General (Elections), Sri Lanka Police
- Director, National Election Complaint Management Center, Election Commission, Rajagiriya.
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A special unit established at CMEV to track election campaign cost of the presidential election 2019 launched its first interim report at HARTI Centre Colombo 07 today morning. This is the first time in election history to disclose election campaign costs and Dr. Psaravanamuttu, Co-convener of CMEV, Manjula Gajanayake of CMEV and Ransi Karunarathne , Project Coordinator attended at this event. Disclosed data and statistics which provide Estimated Election Campaign Costs of election candidates can be obtained here and next interim report will be published closer to polling day on November 16, 2019.
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A special unit established at CMEV to track election campaign cost of the presidential election 2019 and launching its first interim report at 11AM at HARTI centre Colombo 07. This is the first time in election history to disclose election campaign costs.
The Local Authorities Election which is to be held for the election of members in the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha (Divisional Council) in Galle district, will be held today, the 11th of October 2019, involving 47 polling centers.
155 candidates will be contesting to represent five (5) recognized political parties in this election.
26 local authority members will be elected by 53,384 qualified electors during this election and the results of which will be announced at the counting center established at the vocational training center of Elpitiya, followed by counting of votes undertaken at the respective polling centers themselves.
The specialty of this particular election is, failing to commence the election in this district in tandem with the election held in all other local authorities on the 10th of February 2018 owing to the ruling 12/2018 that was given by the court in conjunction with the returning officer of Galle District refusing the nominations submitted by one of the contesting political parties.
The Centre For Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), initiated in 1997, has contributed to the electoral reforms through a thorough election observation process.
The institution created a database of election results and information about violence perpetrated in a variety of elections (such as presidential, general and provincial). Once the Election Commission announced the commencement of elections, CMEV re-initiated its election observation mission on the 18th of September. The organisation has mobilised their operations for the upcoming Presidential Election slated for the 16th of November 2019.
CMEV held its residential training session for district/field monitors on 11th of October at the Janaki Hotel, Colombo 5. Almost 100 participants from all 25 administrative districts gained exposure to: Election Law, election observation process, contemporary political climate and the misuse of state resources.
Media Communique, 1500 H, 12th October 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka Elpitiya Local Authorities Election 2019
The Local Authorities Election was held on the 11th of October 2019 and involved 47 polling centers electing members of the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha in Galle, Southern Province.
One hundred and fifty –five (155) candidates contested representing five (5) political parties in the election. Twenty eight (28) local authority members, were elected by 53,384 eligible electors. The voter turnout was 75%.
This particular election was important because of the delay in holding it, due to the judicial proceedings which led to the court ruling of 12/2018 together with the incident of the Returning Officer, Galle District, refusing the nominations submitted by one of the contesting political parties.
Election day ended without any critical incidents of election-related violence and misconduct. Moreover, the pre-election period remained peaceful and does not challenge the final result.
CMEV monitors have reported the following minor violations:
Polling center designated at Omaththa Kanishta Vidyalaya, Galle (02:A)
Posters and other promotional material displayed at either side of the road of the polling center throughout the Election Day. Several candidate posters representing the main political party candidates (UNP, SLPP and SLFP) had reportedly been on display.
Polling Center designated at Thalgaspe Kanishta Vidyalaya (05:B)
CMEV learned that a female had been coercing the people to vote for SLPP near the polling center. She had encouraged voters to cast their votes for the SLPP candidate Malliyawadu Nalin Chaminda Priyadarshana.
Polling Center designated at Ananda Madyamaha Vidyalaya, Elpitiya, Galle (11:C)
CMEV observers noted that a convoy of vehicles led by M.P. Palitha Thewarapperuma displayed promotional posters of certain candidates while traveling with few other candidates across several polling centers (The vehicles bore the registration
numbers: KR 6312, CAW6990,GZ 2665 and WP 21483). The presence of such a convoy of vehicles near the polling centers had been a challenge to the maintenance of a peaceful environment in a polling area.
Polling Center designated at Pinikahana Siriniwasa Kanishta Vidyalaya, Galle (16:A)
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate Jayaneththi Arachchi Janaka Kumara (candidate listed under the additional list), had been appealing the voters to vote for his party while standing near the polling center. A defender vehicle (registration number. P G 0007) was involved in this incident.
Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya,Chairman, Election Commission of Sri Lanka, President Council Mr. Naleen Abeysekara, Member of Election Commission of Sri Lanka Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, Member of Election Commission of Sri Lanka,
Election Commission of Sri Lanka,
13 / 10 / 2019
Presidential Election 2019: Candidates contesting the Presidential Election 2019, violating the Code of Ethics announced by the Election Commission by using statements made by military officers.
Despite the requirement of every candidate contesting the Presidential Election to abide by the Code of Ethics set out by the Election Commission when conducting their election campaigns, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) wishes to draw the attention of the Election Commission to a violation of the Code of Ethics, as appeared in a paper advertisement.
Three newspapers due for the distribution on 13 / 10 / 2019 (today) carried full-page advertisements which featured statements made by former Triforce Commanders about Presidential Candidate, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
One example that stands out is the statement made by the present Army Commander, Lt. Gen Shavendra Silva on the 28th of December 2009. Lt. General Silva is still the Army Commander on active duty (please refer to the attached advertisement for evidence) and the use of his statement compromises the integrity of civil-military relations in Sri Lanka. We further believe that the integrity of the election would be severely compromised if other candidates also adopted this practice.
We recommend that suitable measures be taken in response to this and greatly appreciate it if you notify us about the measures taken in relation to this matter.
Please be assured of out cooperation
Look forward to your response