The challenge of regulating election campaign expenditure: Why is Sri Lanka’s youth generation silent?

One of the focus areas of which the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has been vocal in parallel with the electoral reform process in Sri Lanka since several decades ago, is the need to regulate unlimited election campaign expenditure in Sri Lanka and to introduce an appropriate legislative mechanism. It is gratifying to note that there has been a strong social focus on this election-related theme at the time, and the Centre for Election Violence Monitoring has also spearheaded various initiatives aimed at continuing a broader social dialogue on the subject matter.

As part of the series of online programs being organized on the above topic, another such program being arranged to be conducted in collaboration with the ‘Next Generation’. We look forward to discussing the challenges facing young political activists in this country in the face of unregulated and unlimited election campaign finances, and we hope that all citizens who aspire to a Level Playing Field in the electoral process will join us in this discussion.

Please watch full program via the following link:

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

Parliamentary General Election 2020 – Election Day Communiqué 1

Incidents on Election Day up to 10 a.m.

Voting commenced at 7 a.m on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 for the Parliamentary General Election. CMEV is deploying 1,200 observers at polling centres, 175+ counting observers at counting centres, 90 field monitors and a team of 50 reporting, operations and mobile team operators at its Colombo HQ. Polling stations are operating under strict COVID-19 health precautions with health officials also being deployed.

A total of 70 incidents of election-related violations have been reported thus far, with illegal campaigning and illegal posers being the most prevalent. The scattering of chits bearing party symbols and candidate preference numbers is by far the most common election violation committed by candidates from a range of political parties all across the country

The following incidents are specific incidents received and confirmed by CMEV’s field monitors stationed at polling stations across the country:

  • CMEV received reports that 60 All Ceylon Tamil Congress (AITC) supporters had arrived at Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) supporter J Kishanthan’s house in Kalmunai, Digamadulla district at 9 p.m. on Aug 4, assaulted several persons there & damaged property. Two persons have been hospitalised.
  • CMEV received reports that a Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) supporter attacked and injured two ACMC supporters at Jamaldeen Square, Pottuvil in Digamadulla district at around 2.30 a.m. today. The victims have been hospitalised.
  • CMEV received reports that two SLPP supporters were aggressively coaxing voters at the gates of the D.A Rajapaksa Maha Vidyalaya in Mulkirigala, influencing them to vote for the SLPP. They were seen accompanying voters into the polling station.
  • CMEV received reports that supporters of Mahindananda Aluthgamage were verbally influencing voters to vote for the SLPP, at around 7.30 a.m. near the polling station at St. Mary’s College, Nawalapitiya.
  • Voters registered at the Nedunthivu polling station in Kayts, Jaffna district were waiting at Kurikattuvan for the boat service to travel to the station on the other side since 8 a.m. CMEV has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission

Further information on the types, perpetrating parties and locations of the incidents CMEV has recorded is detailed in the charts below:

Download the Communiqué here

Election Violations Update #7 (August 2, 2020)

The seventh update of election violations CMEV has observed and recorded covers the period until August 2.

CMEV එය විසින් නිරීක්ෂණය සහ වාර්තා කරන ලද මැතිවරණ නීති උල්ලංඝණය කිරීම් හා ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා පිළිබඳ හත්වන සිද්ධි වාර්තාකරණය අගෝස්තු 2 වන තෙක් කාලය ආවරණය කරයි.

சீ.எம்.இ.வி யின் 7வது தேர்தல் சட்ட மீறல்கள் மற்றும் வன்முறைகள் சம்பந்தமான கண்காணிப்பு அறிக்கை, ஆகஸ்ட் மாதம் 2ம் திகதி வரையிலாகும்.

Election Violations Update #6 (August 1, 2020)

The sixth update of election violations CMEV has observed and recorded covers the period until August 1.

CMEV එය විසින් නිරීක්ෂණය සහ වාර්තා කරන ලද මැතිවරණ නීති උල්ලංඝණය කිරීම් හා ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා පිළිබඳ හයවන සිද්ධි වාර්තාකරණය අගෝස්තු 1 වන තෙක් කාලය ආවරණය කරයි.

சீ.எம்.இ.வி யின் 6வது தேர்தல் சட்ட மீறல்கள் மற்றும் வன்முறைகள் சம்பந்தமான கண்காணிப்பு அறிக்கை, ஆகஸ்ட் மாதம் 1ம் திகதி வரையிலாகும்.

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

Ravaya Paper Article

Unlimited and Unregulated nature of election campaign finances is a serious issue in Sri Lanka. Policy makers of this country should immediately act in formulating a Campaign Finance Legislation as part of the overall electoral reform process of Sri Lanka. This Article analyzes the findings of the Election Campaign Cost Monitoring Initiative of the CMEV on the Presidential Election 2019. 

Orginal Article Click this link

ARBITRARY AND ILLEGAL TAMPERING WITH REGISTERED VOTER LISTS 2019

Letter to Election Commission

Dear 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Explain the due process by which errant Grama Niladharis are to be held accountable for these deliberate omissions.
  3. 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.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Co-Conveners CMEV

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Presidential Election 2019 -MEDIA COMMUNIQUE 29th October 2019

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:

  1. Use of minors in school uniform for a propaganda advertisement of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the presidential candidate of SLPP.
  2. Use of a school uniformed minor for the newspaper advertisement of SLPP.
  3. 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.
  4. Use of a child with body paint for political promotion at a SLPP rally in Uva Paranagama on 25th October 2019.
  5. 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.

The 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.

Thank you

……………………………

Manjula Gajanyake,
National Co-ordinator,
CMEV

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Presidential Election 2019 -MEDIA COMMUNIQUE 20th October 2019

MEDIA COMMUNIQUÉ

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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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.

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,
Election Secretariat,
Sarana Rd,
Rajagiriya
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

Thank you,

Manjula Gajanayake
National Co-ordinator

 

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