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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Local Authorities Election 2018: Media Communique 2

0900h,  28th   January 2018 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

As a consequence of the historic allocation of 25% female representation in this election, the minimum number of female candidates that would be elected to all the local authorities throughout the country will amount to over 1985.

CMEV has the following observations to make with regard to this, in the campaign so far. These observations are based on field reports received by CMEV.

  1. Party secretaries and party organizers have not effectively used this provision to the full.
  2. Promises made to potential female candidates regarding nomination have not been fulfilled.
  3. Sexual favours have been demanded from potential women candidates in exchange for their confirmation as candidates.
  4. Exploiting the lack of information/knowledge of candidates of the new electoral system with regard to nomination.
  5. Chief organizers of parties curtailing the freedom of women candidates to organize their election campaigns in collaboration with constituents and local party leaders.
  6. Lodging false complaints against women candidates and hindering their election campaigns by deploying supporters to dissuade voters from voting for women candidates.

Below is a summary of some incidents involving women candidates.

15th January 2018, Puttalam district,

A series of viral videos containing insults and hate speech condemning the involvement of female candidates disseminated through social media. The cleric known as Niyaz Maulavi is alleged to be responsible for tarnishing the reputation of women candidates, including the use of profanities against women’s participation in electoral politics.

As a religious cleric, he demands that his followers not vote for women. Female candidates in the Puttalam district and in the Northern and Eastern provinces, in particular are being targeted.

The Co-Convener of CMEV Dr. P. Saravanamuttu has written to the Elections Commission and the Inspector General of Police, requesting them to take prompt action with this regard.

15th January 2018, Puttalam District

A surprise raid was carried out by four (04) police officers on the residence of C. A. Rinuza Ilma, a female candidate contesting from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. Police officers attached to Norochcholai police station raided the house on a complaint received via 119 police emergency hotline. The complainant had indicated that a large- scale operation of counterfeiting banknotes was being carried out at the house of the said female candidate and that a large number of computers at that location were being used for this purpose.  Although it was a surprise raid, the female candidate has emphatically insisted that a women police officer also should have partaken in such a raid.

The police officers were unable to find anything suspicious. Subsequently the candidate whose house was raided, arrived at the police station with another candidate named Zilia Buto and attempted to make a complaint. Yet the police officers on duty refused to accept her complaint claiming that the officer responsible for taking complaints was on leave. However, after informing one of the Election Commission members, Prof. Rathnajeevan Hoole, the complaint had finally been accepted by the police under the complaint no. CIB I 16/125. Against her objections, Police officers had edited her complaint on the grounds of relevance.

20th January 2018, Monaragala district

  1. A. Renuka Damayanthi , a female candidate of an independent group contesting for a seat in the Wellawaya Pradeshiya Sabha, was hospitalized after sustaining injuries as a result of a confrontation between candidates of the independent groups and supporters of the political parties.

Ms Damayanthi had been a former supporter of United People’s Freedom Alliance.  Although she had been hoping to be a Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate, she has not been given nomination. Hence she submitted nomination as a contestant of an independent group.

The 119, emergency response unit has received a complaint from Mr. R. M. Lalith Rathnayake, one of the neighbors of the said female candidate claiming that she has been displaying the picture of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as campaign material at her residence and on her vehicle. The complainant is a supporter of SLPP. The confrontation has started while the police officers had been at her residence to investigate the above complaint. It resulted in R. M. Lalith Rathnayake assaulting candidate Damayanthi. The assault caused facial bleeding to her and she has been admitted to the Wellawaya hospital where she is still receiving treatment.

Candidate Damayanthi’s husband V. P. Aruna Chaminda Kumara has retaliated by assaulting Pushpa Shiromala, the wife of Lalith Rathnayake . Ms Shiromala has also been admitted to the same hospital and is receiving treatment.

  1. M. Lalith Rathnayake and Aruna Chaminda Kumara have been arrested as suspects and have been presented to the magistrate under B Report 11060. They have been remanded till 23rd January 2018.

12th December 2017, Batticoloa district, Manmunaipattu Pradeshiya Sabha, Ariyampathi South electorate (No. 4)

An attack with stones had been leveled at The house of UNP candidate K. Jeyachandrika was stoned by an unidentified gang on the night of the 12th of December 2017. She has lodged a complaint at the Kattankudi police station under the complaint no. CIB III 98/148. No suspects have been identified.

21st of January 2018, Gampaha District, Negombo Municipal Council

It has been reported to CMEV that Muthukudaarachchige Namali Susanthi, representing United National Freedom Front, has been subjected to verbal assault and intimidation. The incident took occurred at around 12:00 P.M. near the supermarket located at Kaduwapitiya junction in Negombo. The person alleged  to have been involved in the said verbal assault and intimidation is a supporter of another candidate representing the United National Party.

Candidate Susanthi has lodged a complaint at the Negombo Police Station under the complaint no. EIB 60112.

26th January 2018, Gangawatakoralaya Pradeshiya Sabha, Kandy district

Ms N. M. Udayangani Kumudukumari, an expectant mother employed at the Internal Audit Division of the Coconut Cultivation Board, has been nominated for the  Gangawatakorale Pradeshiya Sabha  by the Jathika Janatha party without her knowledge and her signature has also been forged.

When the leader of Janatha Jathika party was contacted he apologized for the mistake and declined to comment on it when CMEV contacted him.

Other Observations:

Providing guidelines to minimize the disturbances caused by election rallies in residential areas.

CMEV has been consistently monitoring election rallies held since nominations were called. One of the observations made was that most rallies are being held in the middle of the road in residential areas. Rallies addressed by the leaders of the main political parties, are also held in highly congested areas where large crowds often gather. CMEV has written to the Elections Commission requesting the introduction of guidelines specifying criteria for the relevant authorities to follow when granting permission for political rallies.

Impact of social media in elections

Social media has been identified as a more modern and cost-effective means of campaigning.  It is therefore important to minimize the negative elements like hate speech, if prevention through use of the law is not possible. It was also observed the government employees who took part in postal voting recently, had posted photographs of the ballot paper on social media such as facebook. CMEV has requested the Elections Commission to take action in respect of such officials including their suspension from election duties.

Activities of a deputy minister in Matale district and violations of election law by leading politicians

A Deputy Minister from the Matale District is alleged to be organizing around 15 pilgrimages during which the residents of the area have been urged to vote for his party. Furthermore, it is alleged that the said minister has asked the residents to vote for his party in exchange for gifts.

The Assistant Commissioner of Elections in Matale had distributed an information pamphlet stating that if such pilgrimages include an element of election campaigning, the participants of the said pilgrimage, will face consequences of breaching their civic duties of refraining from aiding and abating illegal election propaganda.

CMEV has received reports about two government ministers distributing forms for employment and housing in the Kegalle and Hambantotta districts respectively. Furthermore, a parliamentarian from the Gampaha District has continually been campaigning within the district with promotional material bearing his photograph in a manner that negatively affects the integrity of the upcoming election. A member of Uva Provincial Council is alleged to be violating various election laws with the intent of ensuring the victory of his wife who is a candidate in the upcoming election.

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