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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The need for an independent and prompt investigation into allegations against Gotabaya Rajapaksa being registered to vote and allegedly voting at the 2005 Presidential Election while not a citizen of Sri Lanka

August 20th2019, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) attention has been drawn to the complaint made regarding former Defense Secretary Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa. According to the complaint made by a deputy editor of a Sinhala daily news paper to the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka, Mr. Rajapaksa’s name had been included in the annual electoral list used for the 2005 Presidential Election and he had allegedly cast his vote in the said election, at a time when he was not a Sri Lankan citizen. This allegation becomes even more problematic as he is to contest the forthcoming  Presidential election as the candidate representing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

In terms of Article 89(a) of the Sri Lankan Constitution, a person who is not a Sri Lankan citizen is not entitled to vote at a Presidential Election, General Election or at a referendum. Voting in sucha situation is an offense and is punishable in terms of the Presidential Elections Act No. 15 of 1981.

According to media reports, Mr. Rajapaksa obtained his US citizenship in 2003. He  arrived in Sri Lanka on the 04th of September 2005 on a tourist visa and had campaigned / assisted the election campaign of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005. This, it is alleged is an offense in terms of section 45(1) (a) of the Immigrants and Emigrants Act no 20 of 1948.

These allegations if proven, would constitute a serious violation of the Constitution and the laws of Sri Lanka and are indicative of acts that compromise the very basis of the electoral process. Thus it is incumbent on Mr. Rajapaksa who aspires to be the eighth executive President of Sri Lanka, to refute these allegations and co-operate fully with all investigations. Anything less would bring into question Mr. Rajapaksa’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, its Constitution and the rule of law. Furthermore, Mr. Rajapaksa’s silence in the face of these allegations and the allegation that he has failed to renounce his dual citizenship, is extremely problematic. As a potential candidate for the highest elected office in Sri Lanka, it is incumbent upon him to demonstrate a greater commitment to the electoral process.

The enumeration process is a constitutionally mandated responsibility for the Elections Commission. The Commission is expected to maintain accuracy in the process, at all times. Ensuring that only eligible electors and verified information is contained in the electoral list is essential to ensure free and fair elections. Allegations, such as those mentioned above, cast serious doubt on the reliability of the enumeration process and compromise the integrity of the electoral process.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into these allegations. CMEV is of the view that the swift and impartial interventions by the Elections Commission and other relevant authorities into allegations of malpractice in the electoral process is essential for maintaining the good faith and confidence of the voters in the electoral process.

 

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Local Authorities Election 2018: Media Communique 1

10th January 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Elections Commission has officially declared 10th February as the date for the Local Authorities Elections that have been postponed for several years. Local Authorities Elections held prior to the forthcoming elections, were held in three stages as below.

The first stage was held on 17 / 03 / 2011.

The second stage was held on 23 / 07 / 2011.

The third stage was held on 10 / 08 / 2011.

Of the above three stages, the first stage was held under the former Commissioner of Elections Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake. Since Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake retired after the first stage, his successor Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya took charge of the other two stages. The said election was the last Local Authorities Election held under a Commissioner of Elections and in accordance with the proportional representative (PR) System.

Although the prevailing government at the time, had decided to commence the aforementioned Local Authorities Election under a mixed system comprising of Proportional Representative System (PR system) and First Pass the Post System (FPTP system), the particular decision was revoked and hence the election was held according to the Proportional Representative (PR) System. It was during this election that the official accreditation to deploy Observers in every polling station island-wide was given to the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFRAL).

The final result of the three- stage elections recorded the United People’s Freedom Alliance receiving 4,774,791 votes and taking control of in 271 out of 322 local authorities.  See grid below:

Name of the party /Independent group Urban Council Municipal Council Pradeshiya Sabha Total
  United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) 17 29 225 271
Ilankai Thamil Arusu Kachchi (ITAK) 5 25 30
United National Party (UNP) 2 5 3 10
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress 1 4 5
National Congress 1 1 2
Tamil United Liberation Front 2 2
Kandurata Janatha Peramuna (Kandurata People’s Front) 1 1
Independent Group 1 1
Total 21 39 262 322

 

Although the official term of a local authority is typically four years, the upcoming election was declared long after terms of office of local authorities expired. There were numerous reasons for the delay. The primary reason was the delimitation process that had to be undertaken as per the newly introduced mix member proportional system of elections and the political dynamics at play. CMEV has expressed its concerns over the postponement of elections to the Election Commission established as per the 19th Constitutional Amendment and to the public at large.  We are of the view that notwithstanding the powers granted to the Election Commission under the 19th Amendment, the postponement of elections was largely due to the political dynamics at play as seen by the political parties, rather than any lapse on the part of the Commission.  CMEV notes that the relevant line ministry has to issue the gazette indicating the number of members to be elected from all constituencies and that Parliament has to approve the gazette. CMEV calls for the authority to schedule elections on time to be granted to the Election Commission.

The upcoming Local Authorities Election is significant because it will be the first to be conducted under the Elections Commission as well as under new system of election.  Of considerable importance too is the quota for female representation that seeks to rectify the regionally and internationally low representation of women in legislative bodies in Sri Lanka.

The total cost incurred by the Elections Commission to conduct the elections in which over 56,000 candidates will contest in 341 local authorities consisting of more than 13,000 polling stations, amounts to 3500 million LKRS. Under the new electoral system 60% of the candidates are returned through First Past the Post (FPTP) and 40% returned through PR. The overall result though, will be proportional to the total number of votes obtained.  . Accordingly, a minimum of 8356 members are expected to be elected to 341 local authorities

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), has initiated its election observation process throughout the period of local authorities election. The observation process consists of field monitors deployed as long-term observers covering all 25 administrative districts and a large number of static observers to be stationed in the polling stations on the day of elections.  In addition, on polling day mobile monitors will be deployed around the country .

CMEV will continue to work with the Commission of Elections and civil society organizations to ensure the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence has also undertaken baseline surveys and gathered data on campaign finance and the use of polythene for campaigns. CMEV will make full use of the mainstream and social media in its contribution towards the electorate making an informed choice.

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