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.
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in partnership with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) organised a workshop on violence against women in elections (VAWIE) for election observer groups and women’s rights advocates on 27th of July at Global Towers Hotel, Colombo.
This discussion which was held based on the common issues arising in relation to VAWIE and other relevant matters, was attended by representatives of all election observation groups as well as women’s rights activists representing various women’s organizations and groups. Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, the chairman of the Election Commission inaugurated the program and Beverly Hagerdon (Chief of Party, Sri Lanka- IFES) ,D. M. Dissanayake (IFES), Udeni Thewarapperuma(IFES), Rohana Hettiarchchi(Executive Director-Paffrel) and Manjula Gajanayake (National Co-ordinator-CMEV) subsequently conducted the remaining sessions in this event respectively.
Chairman of the Election commission of Sri Lanka outlined the inclusive election process that has being followed by the Election Commission, in accordance with the strategic plan that was introduced recently, which was followed by the socio-economic and political challenges towards the promotion of women participation in elections. Keerthi Thennakoon (Caffe), Daya Herath (MDL Lanka), Sashee De Mel (TISL) , Jayantha Dolawattha (SLAPA) also expressed their views on the subject representing election observer groups while Visaka Dharmadasa (AWAWSL), Nadesan Suresh (Uva Shakthi Foundation), U.D.M. Sheelwathie (UWFWO), Nalini Rathnarajah (Women Activist) and several others contributed to the discussion representing women and other rights based organisations.
It was a novel experience to learn about VAWIE and specially for the Women’s Organizations the information shared with regard to election monitoring tools and mechanisms was instrumental. During the final discussion, all the participants agreed that the existing election monitoring tools used by observer groups lack questions to capture VAWIE and they came up with several questions that need to be included in all election monitoring tools. The participants also acknowledged that in order to implement VAWIE monitoring tools, there are certain prerequisites that need to be looked into- such as training programmes on VAWIE for election observers, establishing a district level focal point for observers to refer victims of VAWIE and increasing public awareness on VAWIE. Based on the discussion, IFES and CMEV agreed to draft sample questions to capture VAWIE that can be adopted by interested observer groups. IFES and CMEV will also develop a brief strategy on how to implement VAWIE monitoring during elections.
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.
As a part of the ’Campaign ABC’ designed by CMEV to facilitate the voting rights of Persons with Disabilities and migrant workers, CMEV conducted its first consultation session in partnership with the AFRIEL Youth Network on 16th October 2016 in Vavuniya.
Prof. S. Rathnajeevan H. Hoole attended this event representing the Election Commission of Sri Lanka (EC) while Mr. M.M. Mohamed, Additional Commissioner of EC and Mr. Nalaka Ratnayake, Assistant Commissioner of EC addressed the event. Additionally Manjula Gajanayake spoke on international experience and methodologies of Out-of-Country Voting (OCV).
The purpose of this program has been to call for views and suggestions in relation to the rights of the out-of-country voters and compile a set of recommendations based on those inputs and present it to the relevant authorities including the parliamentary select committee nominated to investigate matters related to OCV. Higher officials attached to government ministries and departments as well as Sri Lanka Police, representatives of migrant workers associations and disability organisations, religious leaders, university students attended in this event.
It is worth noting that the Election Commission is not advocating any specific methodologies for Sri Lankan migrant voters, because there is a PSC that has been specifically established for this purpose since April 2016. Yet however, the officials at the Election Commission are actively participating in this discourse as observers as well as resource persons.
June 01st is considered as ‘VOTERS’ DAY’ of the country. There were several awareness programs and gatherings to celebrate this special day during the first week of this month. It is for the first time that the Election Commission (EC) celebrated this day after they were established. Centre for Monitoring Election Violence also celebrated it in partnership with the Election Commission. The main event of the Election Commission was held at the auditorium of the District Secretariat of Colombo this morning. The Chairman of the EC highly appreciated the involvement of CMEV, particularly in providing awareness material in accessible formats. Here are some images of distributing leaflets, the walk and the main gathering.
Experience Sharing Discussion Series on Electoral Process for Government Staff Officers organised by CMEV in partnership with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka:
As a part of the annual training plan which is being implemented with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is organizing a series of provincial level awareness sessions for all Staff Officers who are engaging with Election duties during Election time. The first awareness session was held at Solis Hotel, Matara.
Chairman of the Election Commission, Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Director General of the Election Commission, Mr. U. Amaradasa, Chief Secretary of Southern Provincial Council and All District Secretaries/Returning Officers of Matara, Galle and Hambantota districts are participating at the event.
This is a great platform to share the lessons learnt and plan out future Election activities and it is nice to see all key administrative officers sharing their experiences with members and Chairman of Election Commission.
CMEV especially provided an insight on the importance of facilitating voting rights of Persons With Disabilities.
Following the written submission made to the Public Representative Committee of Constitutional Reforms on the 29th of February by a group of civil society organizations and individuals including volunteers from the 2015 ‘Enabled Elections’ campaign and facilitated by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), an oral submission was presented before the said committee on the 4th of March from2:00 P. M. onwards at the office of the Public Representative Committee located in Visumpaya, Colombo 02.
The presentation was commenced by Mr. Manjula Gajanayake, the National coordinator of CMEV and was followed by Mr. Subramaniam, the president of Northern Provincial Consortium of Differently Abled as well as the president of Orhan organization based in Vavuniya. Mr. Janith Rukmal, President and Co-founder of Enabled Lanka foundation summarized the contents of the written submission and highlighted the most essential points of interest to the committee while Ms. Nirosha from Trincomalee and Mr. Kasunjith from Kalutara representing the persons with disabilities opined further on the significance of the submission.
Special emphasis was given to the fact that the oral submission being presented with the majority participation of the persons with disabilities.
The translations of this document in Sinhala and Tamil languages were also submitted to the committee with accessible Braille prints of it while updating the said submission with new signatories.
The insights for this submission was taken from the inputs received from an advocacy meeting convened by CMEV on the 8th of February with substantial participation of the communities consisting of the persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka.
While pledging to continue the advocacy for the civil and political rights and the broader inclusion of persons with disabilities in the electoral process in the future, CMEV wishes to thank every organization and individual who contributed in diverse ways to make this endeavor possible.
The official documents along with the Sinhala and Tamil translations of the written submission will be available on CMEV website shortly.
Several highlights of the occasion can be viewed in the photos below.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, as a member of the March 12th Movement (M12M), is organising a signature campaign in Badulla today. The vehicle parade of M12M has approached Badulla after a long march. And many of the religious / CSO / Political leaders are putting their signatures at this very moment at the function being held at Badulla town. The objective of this campaign is to obtaining 1 million signatures and to submit it to all political leaders, to put pressure on them requesting, not to give nominations to unsuitable candidates.
Voting is an important civic responsibility and one way all of us exercise and enjoy our Sovereignty. This responsibility becomes particularly important during a Presidential Election, because of the immense power vested in this office.
The campaign calls on voters to take a public pledge that they will exercise their right to vote on January 8th. An individual can signify this pledge by changing their profile/account picture and cover/banner page on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social media platform. On election day those who take the pledge can share through social media a picture of the fifth digit (little finger) of their left hand which is marked with indelible ink using the hashtag #IVotedSL.
We’ve also created banners Editors of news media and bloggers can choose feature on their websites, in print or via television.
All images are copyright free and available in Tamil, Sinhala and English variants. Download them all from http://bit.ly/ivotedsl.
Over the new week, the #IVotedSL campaign will disseminate infographics on the importance of voting and encourages the general public to also share photos, memes and other media content depicting the importance of voting using the hashtag #IVotedSL.
Our first infographic in this regard is below.
CMEV was formed in 1997 by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Coalition Against Political Violence as an independent and non-partisan organisation to monitor the incidence of election related violence. Currently, CMEV is made up of CPA and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.
CMEV does not support and or endorse any candidate or political party. #IVotedSL is meant to get citizens animated around the importance of exercising their vote. It is emphatically not aimed at the promotion or criticism of any particular candidate.
News media reported that the United National Party HQ ‘Sirikotha’ had come under attack following a clash between UNP supporters and members of the Federation of National Organizations who were protesting there.
CMEV received a complaint from Rev Ampitiye Sumanaratna Thero that a group of civilians protested that their voting rights should be ensured. They attempted to submit a petition to the President in this regard and allege that they were attacked by the Police at around 6.30 p.m. on the 19th December 2014 in front of the Batticaloa Police Station.
A group of Buddhist priests led by Rev Ampitiye Sumanaratna Thero and group of Sinhalese resettled in Keviliyamaduwa village in Batticaloa District had tried to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksha after the meeting held at Hindu College in Batticaloa on the 19th of December with the purpose of submitting a petition demanding their voting rights and a few other basic facilities. They have repeatedly requested permission to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksha. According to Rev Ampitiye Sumanaratne Thero, a request that was rejected by the police. When they tried to reach the location, irrespective of Police permission they were attacked brutally. One of the members of the group had been stripped naked and a few others have been attacked by the Police. Four members including a pregnant women have been admitted to the Teaching Hospital in Batticaloa according to the report made by Sumanaratne Thero to CMEV.
Ven Sumanaratna Thero said to CMEV that they are not in a position to make any complaint at any Police Station as the perpetrators are Police officers themselves. He further said that they are very helpless at this time and do not know what to do next.
An arson attack was reported to CMEV around a stage prepared for a meeting of the Common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, and truck bearing number 48-7143 transporting sound equipment to the meeting at 6.55am near the Wadhuramba public bus stand in Baddegama.
The meeting had been scheduled to start at 5.30 p.m. with participation of Maithripala Sirisena, Sajith Premadasa, Sarath Fonseka and other political leaders from the Opposition. A group of unidentified armed people who arrived by one Land Rover Defender and another Jeep without number plates had attacked the truck which transported the sound equipment and set fire to the stage and sound equipment containers.
Three people who were in charge of sound equipment had fled as they had been threatened by the group. Mr. Premalal Liyanage, a Member of the Baddegama Pradeshiya Sabha has lodged a complaint with the Wadhuramba police station, under the file number RIB 02/15. A CMEV monitor visited the location and confirmed the incident. He further reported that a campaign office of a UPFA candidate is also established in very close proximity to the location where the stage had erected.
A UNP candidate who contested for the Uva PC election has been assaulted by an unidentified group in last night. The name of the victim is Mr. Roy Kalinga and he is in Ward No. 2 in the Sirigala Hospital, Monaragala.