CMEV has been proactively contributing towards the electoral process of Sri Lanka from the very outset. As a vital component of supporting the progressive steps taken with this regard by the newly established Elections Commission of Sri Lanka, CMEV facilitated the enrichment of knowledge and skills of the high level election staff officers through a comprehensive action plan that’s aimed at providing a series of important training sessions.
The said action plan prepared by CMEV to be mobilized in collaboration with the election commission of Sri Lanka was presented to the participants during the 2 day residential training programme on delimitation and electoral boundaries held in Diyathalawa.
The most significant item of this event is the presentation of a special gift (a collection of cartoon portrayals published by all the national newspapers in all three languages during the Presidential and the General Election time period) about Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya. It was awarded by Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, the co-convener of CMEV and the executive director of CPA, to chairman of the Election Commission Mr.Mahinda Deshapriya in appreciation of his unwavering commitment and immense service rendered on behalf of the nation.
Dr. P. Saravanamuttu was also awarded with a token of appreciation by the chairman of the Election Commission for his constant support to the betterment of the electoral process in the country.
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.
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Comprehensive document as a proposed submission for the Public representative committee for the constitutional reforms has been drafted following an advocacy consultation convened by Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) on Feb 8th involving disability rights advocates, human rights organizations and disabled peoples’ organizations. This initiative has been made possible with the support of the International Federation of Electoral Assistance, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, the Northern Province Consortium for Disabled Associations, Enable Lanka Foundation and volunteers of the 2015 Enabled Elections coalition, and with the facilitation of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence.
Today at 2.pm, the translations of the said document will be submitted to the said committee in tandem with an oral submission of the proposals with the participation of numerous disability related organizations and persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka.
CMEV in collaboration with International Foundation for Electoral Systems convened an advocacy meeting today from 9:30 A.M. till 12:00 P. M. at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies auditorium with the participation of the coalition involved in the Enabled Election campaign and many other disabled persons’ organizations as well as disability advocates to discuss and draft a comprehensive document that addresses the need to devise and adopt provisions concerning the persons living with disabilities to be included in the constitutional reforms.
Over 25 participants represented various organizations and institutions related to persons living with disabilities at this meeting and provided their inputs in a progressive manner to be submitted to the committee that has been appointed to collate the contributions of the general public in relation to the drafting of a new constitution.
An initial draft prepared by a disability rights expert in IFES was presented to the participants in English, Sinhala and Tamil languages along with the Braille copies of the respective document. Based on the said document, a new draft was made with the inputs of the participants with the view to adopting the proposed provisions in the local context with more focus on several priority areas which were recommended to be submitted for the consideration of the aforesaid reviewing committee appointed by the government.
However, substantial inputs from any interested organizations or individuals can still be included in the final draft if they would be e-mailed to CMEV via [email protected] before the 10th of February 2016.
The photo highlights of today’s event can be viewed below.
17 August 2015: CMEV deployed a total of approximately 4000 monitors in the field, in polling stations and in mobile teams in the 2015 General Election. In addition, CMEV deployed 75 mobile teams, 21 international observers and 90 observers in counting centers.
On the day of polling, 316 incidents with 109 Major Incidents and 207 Minor Incidents were recorded. Of the 109 Major Incidents CMEV documented 37 incidents against the UNP & 28 against the UPFA. One incident related to the assault of a former Provincial Council Minister by a UNP candidate in Nawalapitiya. Six incidents of threat and intimidation were also reported during polls. CMEV notes that on the day of elections, several other incidents were reported including electioneering and violations of election laws. Despite this, CMEV notes the General Election to be relatively free and fair.
CMEV estimates voter turnout to be between 70- 75%, a decrease from the high turnout of 81.52% in the Presidential Elections. Particular areas which witnessed a lower voter turnout at the General Election as opposed to the Presidential Election in January 2015 include Batticaloa, Digamadulla, Kandy, Kalutara, Gampaha, Galle, Monaragala and Kurunagala
CMEV commends the Commissioner for Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya and the Inspector General of Police, N.K Illangakoon and their officers, for both providing and sustaining an enabling environment for a free and fair election. In particular, CMEV’s monitoring of the pre-election period and Election Day highlights speedy action taken by the Police in implementing election laws. Such measures reinforced public confidence in the respective officials upholding the rule of law and in their taking the steps necessary to protect the integrity of the poll.
The lead up to the General Election created an environment to recognize and provide for the voting rights of persons with disabilities, with specific reference here to the Election Commissioner’s Circular No. De/LI/PR/03 issued in May 2015, directing officials to take specific steps to ensure that persons with disabilities are supported in the exercise of their franchise. CMEV has taken many steps to support this initiative and noted some improvements at the General Election in this regard, but urges the relevant officials to take all necessary steps to provide for the full realization of the right to franchise among persons with disabilities.
Finally, CMEV reiterates its call for independent institutions including independent commissions for elections, police and public services, underscoring the need for constitutional and legal reform to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. In this regard, CMEV calls for the full implementation of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the appointment of the Constitutional Council without further delay.
Whilst there have been reports of violence and malpractice, polling in this General Election has been largely peaceful and without hindrance. The Police in particular have been vigilant in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and have arrested 50 individuals for violations of election law.
The graphic below illustrates the comparison of incidents of violence and malpractice on election day in this election with that of the last three national elections.
At the end of polling, CMEV has recorded a total of 316 incidents. Of these, while 109 have been categorized as Major Incidents, 196 Minor Incidents have also been reported. The highest number of Major Incidents relate to the intimidatory presence of party supporters in the vicinity of polling centres. Four (4) incidents of Threat and Intimidation in the polling divisions of Pathadumbara in Kandy, Medawachchiya in Anuradhapura, Kopay in Jaffna and Eheliyagoda in Ratnapura respectively were also reported along with 01 incident of Assault from Nawalapitiya in the Kandy district. Below is a summary of incidents.
CMEV has recorded 43 incidents with regard to the presence of party supporters in the vicinity of polling centres in the Northern (10), Eastern (5), North Western (5), Uva (5), Central (3) and Western (10) Provinces.
CMEV received reports of 06 incidents related to threat and intimidation.
Assault in Nawalapitiya
Mr. Anurudda Amarasena, the former Member of Pasbage Korale Pradeshiya Sabha was allegedly assaulted by UNP Candidate Mr. Ananda Aluthgamage at around 2.45 p.m. at the Nawalapitiya Central College polling centres 45 and 46 in the Nawalapitiya electorate, Kandy. The victim was admitted to Nawalapitya hospital for treatment. He has filed a complaint with the Nawalapitiya Police Station. No arrest has been made so far.
Person arrested violating election law – Colombo
The CMEV monitor present at the Sarana Muslim Sangam Building polling station 100, Colombo Central, Colombo complained to the SPO that Jathika Sama Peramuna candidate Mr. Suhairur Ameed Mohomad Sajid took a photograph of his marked ballot paper. Maligawatta Police has arrested the Mr Sajid.
UPFA candidate Mr. Danasiri Amarathunga and supporters seen around a voting centre, Dehiwala, Colombo
At around 3.40 p.m., UPFA candidate Danasiri Amarathunga and approximately 50 of his supporters were seen around the Pamankada Sangamiththa College voting centre, near the Dehiwala-Pamankada junction.
Voter transportation in Katana, Gampaha
Voters were transported allegedly by UPFA Gampaha District Candidate Mr. Indika Anurudda’s supporters in a vehicle bearing his candidate number 21 at around 11.45 a.m. to the Vidyaloka Primary School 3 polling station.
Threat and intimidation in Katana, Gampha
Former UPFA Katana Urban Council Member, Mr. Attachchi alias Baiya and Weli Thusitha, alias Weli Suji have allegedly threatened and intimidated voters to vote in favor of the UPFA at the Bambuwala Jhon Bastian Vidyalaya polling station 4 from 10.55 am onwards.
Distributers of campaign material arrested in Kalutara
Police officers including S.I Mr. Wickramarachchi of the Kalutara East Police arrested two individuals, namely Rajantha Silva and Roshan De Silva who were distributing election material at the Nagaratnarama junction in Kalutara. The alleged perpetrators were distributing material of candidates Mr. Rajitha Senaratne and Mr. Ajith P. Perera. At the time of the arrest -approximately 9.05 a.m.- the perpetrators had been travelling in a three wheeler number plated WP/HJ 9312. A complaint was filed with the Kalutara East Police (MOIB 76/102)
Person arrested with ballot papers in possession, Mannar electorate, Vanni
It was reported to CMEV that a UNP supporter had 7 ballot papers in his possession. The police arrested him at about 2. 30 p.m. This occurred at the Mau/Kokupridaiyan RCTM school polling station 50, Puthukudiyirrupu.
Providing transportation to voters by a candidate in Passara, Badulla
It was reported to CMEV that UPFA candidate no 6 Chamara Sampath provided transportation facilities to voters in a vehicle plated G5 7519 to the polling stations in the Passara, Medawalagama area at around 8 30 am.
Use of invalid NIC cards in Trincomalee electorate, Trincomalee
CMEV received a complaint about the use of invalid National Identity Cards at Kandiya Arasinal Tamil mixed school (polling station 52)
Use of model ballot paper to influence voters in Muttur, Trincomalee
CMEV received a complaint about the use of a model ballot paper by supporters of UNP candidate Mr. M.S. Thoufik to instruct people to vote for him, near the Muttur Sirajnagar Muslim Vidyalaya polling stations 48 and 49.
Voter using driver’s license was not allowed to vote in Aranayaka, Kegalle
A voter by the name of Mr. D.V. Ranasinghe was not allowed to vote at the Ussapitiya Bodhiraja Vidyalaya polling station 2 using his driver’s license, as the license was declared to be cancelled. However, no such cancellation date was stated on the license.
Person pasting Bills Arrested in Kolonna Electorate, Ratnapura
It was reported to CMEV that an individual named Hewaguluwaduge Chamil Janka was arrested today at 11.00 a.m. by the Embilipitiya Police while the accused was pasting campaign bills pertaining to UPFA Candidate Mrs. Pavithra Wanniarachchi on walls in the vicinity of the Embilipitiya President’s College polling stations (Polling Station Nos. 09, 10, 11).
Distribution of Alcohol for voters at Grenvil Gardens at Maskeliya in Nuwara Eliya District by CWC supporters
It was reported to CMEV that Ceylon Worker’s Congress (CWC) supporters have distributed alcohol to voters before they voted at the Joseph Maha Vidhalaya polling station 182 and 184. The perpetrators have allegedly encouraged the villagers to vote for the CWC party and mark their preferences for CWC Candidates bearing candidate numbers 2 (Mr. Arumugam Thondaman), 9 (Mr. Siwaraj Anusha) and 10 (Mr. Siwalingam Muttu).
Disruption to election monitoring in Madawachchiya, Anuradhapura
A group disturbed CMEV polling centre day observer at the Anuradhapura Kunchuttuwa Vidyalaya polling station 30 saying ‘who are you and who gave you permission to monitor outside the polling center? You can only monitor inside the center’. The group arrived in vehicle number LA-9820 with stickers of UPFA candidate Mr. Thissa Karaliyadda pasted on it.