Enforcement of punishments for government officials responsible for misuse of State property is a tremendous victory for Sri Lankan citizens

The most recent presidential election held on the 8th of January 2015 was regarded as controversial due to various reasons. One of the frequently discussed aspects among them was the rampant misuse of state property by the previous regime. One instance of such misuse was the distribution of “Sil Redi” (Cloths warn in order to observe Sil on poyadays), that was conducted island-wide.  Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV)  along with the other election observing organizations, complained to the Department of Elections with this regard while this misuse was taking place at the time.  The revelations with that regard also were followed up consistently afterwards and it was yesterday that the verdict was given on the matter by the high court of Colombo. We believe that the said verdict will contribute to a certain extent in preventing the mal-intentioned precedent of rampant misuse of state property in order to win the elections, from taking place hereafter. The press release in relation to this matter has been published and can be downloaded in Sinhala, while the English and Tamil translations of the same, will be made available shortly.

 

Tribute to Mr. Senarath Attanayake

The trailblazing advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka is no longer with us

At a significant juncture where an inclusive electoral process has been introduced with the interventions of the newly established Election Commission, Election Observing Organizations and various organizations and institutions advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, the demise of Uva Provincial Councilor Mr. Senarath Attanayake is indeed an incalculable loss in view of CMEV.

At the time of his sudden decease at the age of fifty-one years, he had accomplished many achievements in different aspects, among which the greatest is him being the first wheelchair user in Sri Lanka to become a qualified lawyer.

Moreover, he has represented Uva provincial council in different capacities including ministerial roles for over two decades. He was a member of the Uva provincial council till the end of his days and never abused his power for narrow political gains.   Out of the three people who are actively involved in politics while being wheelchair users in the whole world, he held the record of having the longest political career in representing the provincial council membership.

At a time and age where the political rights of the persons with disabilities was cast aside, the intervention made by Mr. Attanayake with that regard, was not only just revolutionary but it was a timely initiative as well.

Among the progressive changes made recently with regard to the facilitation of voting for the persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka, the circular issued by the Election Commissioner on the first week of May in the year 2015 leading up to the general election held in the month of August, was initiated as a result of a request forwarded by Mr. Attanayake to the election commissioner. The said circular held the assistant/deputy  election commissioners and other relevant officials accountable for facilitating the persons with disabilities in casting their votes at the election.

Subsequently, it was him who became the great shadow that stood behind the team of voluntary advocates, youth activists and all the civil society organizations who spearheaded the initiative known as Enabled Elections which was facilitated by CMEV and functioned as a coalition of various advocacy organizations like Wheels in Motion which was co-founded by Mr. Senarath himself and Enable Lanka foundation which was another youth-led organization advocating for mainstreaming disability inclusion in Sri Lanka under his mentorship.  It was Mr. Senarath Attanayake who took the lead in persuading CMEV to take up the facilitating role for this initiative.

It was not only about the political and voting rights of the persons with disabilities that Mr. Senarath worked extensively. But also he focused on various other needs of the persons with disabilities where he strived to make Wellawaya a disabled-friendly city in alignment with a global initiative of building such inclusive spaces. At present, the Wellawaya city attests to his effort and stands out as an accessible and disabled-friendly city in Sri Lanka. He invested a greater portion of his consolidated funds towards the betterment of persons with disabilities while setting an example for the other members of the provincial council and local government levels.

He maintained a consistent rapport with the CMEV as well as the Election Commission and actively intervened in highlighting the issues of the persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka at the high-level international forums such as the UN general assembly every year.

In appreciation of his tremendous service, The Viscardi Center  presented him Henry Viscardi Achievement Award in the year 2016, the statement on which is extracted below.

“Provincial Councilor of Uva Province, Mr. Senarath Attanayake (Attorney-at-Law), for receiving this year’s Henry Viscardi Achievement Award. (The Viscardi Center) These international Awards, first bestowed in 2013, recognize exemplary leaders within the disability community and their extraordinary societal contributions.” More information here.

As an organization proactively engaging in the area of advocating for the political and voting rights of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka, Centre for Monitoring Election Violence observes the demise of Mr. Attanayake as an immeasurable  loss. CMEV always recalls the well-informed, courageous and exemplary service of Mr. Senarath Attanayake with great admiration. A short video documentary produced by CMEV to be aired in a recently held TV interview based on the invaluable service he has rendered to the persons with disabilities in this country, can be viewed here.

 

CPA extended their hand to school children in the Matara district affected by the recent floods

Although the mandate of the Centre for Policy Alternatives(CPA) has been research and advocacy, when the need has arisen CPA has contributed towards humanitarian relief. The distribution of essential educational equipment for   children affected by the recent floods is one such example. The initiative was taken by the staff of CPA and its election monitoring arm the Centre For Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV).
The equipment was officially handed over to Mr. Senaka Palliyaguru, the Matara Municipal Council Commissioner who rendered a immense service to the general public during the said disaster situation, by the Executive Director of CPA  and Co-Convenor of CMEV, Dr. P. Saravanamuttu.​

Limitations on Campaign Finance and Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities: A series of Regional Dialogues – Part 2

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) organised an awareness workshop in Jaffna recently. This discussion series was organised by CMEV in partnership with Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), with the assistance of Civil Society Organisations as well as field and district coordinators of CMEV.

Candidates willing to contest for the upcoming Local Government election, women candidates in particular, activists and key members of civil society organizations attended this event.

Former Deputy Commissioner of Local Government – Mr. N.A. Dharmasiri and National Co-ordinator of CMEV – Manjula Gajanayake, were the speakers at this event.

Limitations on campaign finance and disclosure of assets and liabilities: A series of regional dialogues – Part 1

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”.

Imposing limitations on campaign finance and the disclosure of assets are not merely isolated elements of the overall electoral process. They are obviously factors that play a pivotal and decisive role of any election. Additionally, these factors assist safeguarding the overall integrity of the electoral process while creating an equal playing field for all election candidates. While most of the countries across the globe have been effectively working in and around identifying and adopting appropriate approaches connected to restricting campaign finance; it is a welcoming situation in Sri Lanka having initiated a public discourse on the same matter during the recent past.

Therefore, contributing to the said initiative, Centre for Monitoring Violence (CMEV) organized nine regional level public discussions on the ‘Campaign expenditure and on declarations of assets and liabilities’ at different nine locations across the country since 29th April – 01st June 2017.

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, National Coordinator of CMEV Manjula Gajanayake, and Researcher of CMEV Hashanie Chitranganie were the speakers at these discussions while the Senior Programme Manager of TISL Sashee de Mel attended representing TISL.

Details of discussions and key stakeholders involved

Date Location Individual/Local Partners engaged
29th April 2017 Royal Nest Hotel, Bendiwewa, Polonnaruwa Mothers & Daughters of Lanka (MDL)
13th May 2017 WODEPT Community Centre, Puttalam Child Vision Sri Lanka-Disability Rights –

Puttalam

14th May 2017 Lake Front Rest, Kanthale, Trincomalee National Collaboration Development Foundation(NCDF)
16th May 2017 Green Garden Hotel, Batticaloa CAMID – Batticaloa
20th May 2017 Ruby Hotel,  Monaragala Community Development Centre,

Monaragala

21st May 2017 Viharamahadevi Human Development Centre,  Hambantota Sri Lankan Young Voice Foundation,

Hambanthota

22nd May 2017 Divisional Secretariat Office, Ratnapura FRIDSRO, Kandy
24th May 2017 Aradhana Hotel, Galle CMEV Field Co-ordinator, Akmeemana
01st June 2017 Oak Ray Hotel, Kandy Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government

Authorities

 Current Situation and Legal Background:

The current legal background regarding the limitation of campaign finances in Sri Lanka as well as the challenges encountered in implementing the law on declaration of assets and liabilities related to elections were focused much in these discussions.  Additionally, there was a special attention to explore the possibility of ensuring accountability and transparency of political culture of the country by using the existing legal provisions on declaration of assets and liabilities in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, apart from those core topics, participants were given an opportunity to propose their suggestions on as to how to make sure of formulation and implementation of regulatory mechanism for the limitation of campaign finances. Thus, viewpoints of participants were taken with regard to the regulation of provision of funds by the political parties during the election period which so far has created an adverse effect on the integrity of the electoral process currently being practiced in Sri Lanka.

Two Day Training Workshop on the Role of Police in Elections

The two day training workshop titled ‘The role of Police Officers in Elections’ was held at Renuka City hotel Colombo 03, on 30th and 31st May 2017.

This workshop was organised by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), in partnership with the Election Commission of Sri Lanka and the Election Branch of Sri Lanka Police. The curriculum of this programme was specifically designed for police officers involved in election process and included some important aspects of electoral process such as principles of election security, election observation and opportunities to mitigate electoral violence. Over 40 senior police officers attended this programme.

CMEV is organizing a series of training workshops for police officers who are engaged in election duties in partnership with Election Commission and Election Unit of the Sri Lanka Police.

Regional Dialogues: Limitations on campaign finance and disclosure of assets and liabilities

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 too 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”.

Imposing limitations on campaign finance and the disclosure of asserts are not merely isolated elements of the overall electoral process. They are obviously factors that play a pivotal and decisive role of any election. Additionally, these factors assist safeguarding the overall integrity of the electoral process while creating an equal playing field for all election candidates. While most of the countries across the globe have been effectively working in and around identifying and adopting appropriate approaches connected to restricting campaign finance; it is a welcoming situation in Sri Lanka having initiated a public discourse on the same matter during the recent past.

Therefore, contributing to the said initiative, Centre for Monitoring Violence (CMEV) organized a public discussion on the ‘campaign expenditure and on declarations of assets and liabilities’ at the Royal Nest Hotel, Polonnaruwa on 29th April 2017. The discussion was organized by CMEV in partnership with Transparency International Sri Lanka  and a number of civil society organizations along with candidates willing to contest upcoming Local Government election.

Mr. N.A. Dharmasiri, Deputy Commissioner of Local Government (retired) , Manjula  Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV and Hashanie Chitranganie, Researcher of CMEV were speakers at this event.