Seminar on the Regulation of Campaign Finances and the Declaration of Assets & Liabilities in Elections

Formulating laws and introducing a mechanism for regulating campaign finances is a significant sectors in the current electoral system in Sri Lanka. A series of discussions with the view to accomplishing this endeavour was held recently as an initiative of Centre for Monitoring Election Violence and International Idea in order to create awareness in the stakeholders to the electoral process. Further discussions were held in collaboration with Transparency International as well.

The distinct element of this series was that twelve districts were involved in those deliberations. Subsequently, with the involvement of selected number of participants from the said consultative discussion series along with the institutions and entities who are directly accountable for the process of regulating campaign finances – Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and Inland Revenue Department – another discussion was held in Colombo at the Janaki Hotel.

A large number of participants took part in the discussion which was held on the 27th of June. All the participants unanimously agreed on the need for taking the necessary steps to formulate a legal framework that enables the regulation of campaign finances, prior to the election that is to be held in the year 2020 or any other national level election that is to be held in the future.

Among the dignitaries who addressed the gathering were Nimal G.Punchihewa, Director (Legal), Election Commission of Sri Lanka; Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Executive Director, CPA and Co- convener of CMEV; Asoka Obeysekara, Executive Director, Transparency International Sri Lanka and Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator, CMEV.

Meanwhile, chamber deliberations were also held in tandem. These were attended by Dr Wickramabahu Karunarathne, Leader , Nawa Sama Samaja party; Sirithunga Jayasuriya, Leader, New Socialist Alliance; Gamini Nawarathne, Former Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (Admin & Election); Nimal G Punchihewa, Director, (Legal) Election Commission of Sri Lanka; Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of Paffrel; Sankitha Gunarathne, Manager, (RTI) TISL; Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV. The discussion was moderated by Sashee De Mel, Senior Programme Manager, Transparency International Sri Lanka.

 

Limitations on campaign finance and disclosure of assets and liabilities: A series of regional dialogues – Part 2

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”.

Therefore, contributing to the said initiative, Centre for Monitoring Violence (CMEV) organized 2 regional workshops in both Ampara & Mannar district recently. 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 and National Coordinator of CMEV  Manjula Gajanayake ​were the speakers at these 2 discussions. ​

A recap on previous elections through cartoons

The two national level elections which were held in the year 2015 can be regarded as the elections which acquired the widest visibility and prominent attention in the recent past. While those elections were apparently referred to as free and fair in every sense, the enormous efforts taken by the relevant stakeholders to preserve the integrity of the said election should also be commended emphatically. The greatest visibility was received at the time with this regard was by the Department of Elections, Department of Police and the election monitoring organizations.
One of the predominantly noticeable trends throughout the period in which the said elections were held, was the inculcation of the role of the then Commissioner of Elections Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya in diverse ways by the print media through newspapers by way of cartoons. Undoubtedly, grasping the way in which the media operated during such a crucial period would be instrumental for anyone who is exploring the history of elections in Sri Lanka. In that regard, the elements reflected through the cartoons which appeared in the newspapers at the time, will provide invaluable insights to anybody who is investigating about the history of elections in Sri Lanka.

Access the contents of the book here.

cover-book

Constitutional Reforms: March 4, 2016

The following submission is respectfully made to the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reforms, to be brought to the attention of the Constitutional Assembly, in promulgating a new Constitution for the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

This submission has been initiated by a group of civil society organizations and individuals promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, including volunteers from the 2015 ‘Enabled Elections’ campaign and facilitated by the Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), who have been advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka and in particular their civil and political rights.  It has been developed from a draft that was discussed at a meeting convened by CMEV at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) on February 8 2016, with the support of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and the Northern Province Consortium of the Differently Abled, and finalized with the feedback of numerous disability and human rights advocates in Sri Lanka, and circulated for endorsement.

Download the submission in all three languages below.

Tamil Version of the Disability Constitutional Reform

Sinhala Version of the Disability Constitutional Reform

English Version of the Disability Constitutional Reform

 

Championing an Inclusive Electoral Process in Sri Lanka

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In February 2016, dozens of participants representing disability rights advocates, disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) and other civil society groups convened in Colombo, Sri Lanka to discuss the rights of persons with disabilities in the electoral and constitutional reform process. Led by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), the meeting launched an effort to develop and submit language to the constitutional reform committee to ensure that these rights are incorporated into Sri Lanka’s legal framework. This marked the first ever initiative of its kind.

At the request of CMEV and DPOs, inclusion experts from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems(IFES) provided technical advice on international standards and best practices for ensuring rights of people with disabilities are recognized in a country’s legal framework, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The international standards, provided in Sinhala, Tamil and braille, informed the civil society initiative by helping to translate international best practices on inclusion to Sri Lanka’s ongoing electoral and constitutional reform process. Many of the proposed standards were integrated into the final constitutional submission. These included language prohibiting the use of ‘unsound mind’ as a justification for limiting a citizens’ right to vote and run for office; establishing an independent council to advise government stakeholders on the rights of persons with disabilities; creating an Access to Elected Office Fund to provide accessible transport, sign language interpreters or other enabling conditions for candidates with disabilities; and explicitly promoting the political rights of women with disabilities.

“I consider this submission of a proposal to include the voice of the persons with disabilities in the constitutional reforms as a major leap… It would enable all of us to engage with the decision making process of the country more proactively while advocating to secure our civil and political rights.”

T.J Rukmal, Co-founder and President of the  Enable Lanka Foundation

On March 4, 2016, following an inclusive consultative process, this informal network of disability advocates representing over 30 civil society and disabled people’s organizations delivered their newly-drafted disability rights’ language to Sri Lanka’s Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reforms. Through this and other efforts, IFES’ Improved Election Management Program continues to support USAID’s focus on advancing disability-inclusive development as part of a strengthened democratic process.


 

View the original article here.