CMEV Election Observation Report – Presidential Election 2019

CMEV is pleased to present its final Election Observation Report for the 2019 Presidential Election. The report provides an overview of the election overall; key election features and trends; a summation of CMEV’s election observation activities; trends in election violations it finds notable; and recommendations for all election stakeholders to strengthen and improve the election process in Sri Lanka.

It also provides detail, data and tabulations on election violations observed and recorded by CMEV during the pre-election, Election Day and post-election periods; as well as the communiqués and materials CMEV published throughout the election period.

Download the Report in English here

Code of Conduct for candidates and Media Guidelines for election gazetted

An extraordinary gazette notification containing the Code of Conduct for contesting political parties, independent groups and candidates of the elections has been published.

The Election Commission said the relevant Code of Conduct is issued in terms of Section 8(8) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981 as amended by the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Act, No. 58 of 2009.

Download Code of Conduct for Contesting Political Parties/Independent Groups And Candidates of the Elections in Sinhala / Tamil / English

Download Media Guidelines in Sinhala / Tamil / English

COVID-19 and Elections: ANFREL and Sri Lankan election organisations release a Code of Conduct for election observers

ANFREL and six domestic election observation groups, including ANFREL members PAFFREL and CMEV, release today the “COVID-19 Code of Conduct for Election Observers” ahead of the 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections.

This document is a joint initiative from organizations both domestic and international intending to observe the parliamentary elections of Sri Lanka. The polls were initially scheduled for 25 April 2020 but have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the country. While the date at which the elections could be held remains uncertain, pending a ruling from the Supreme Court on the matter, election monitoring organizations have decided to plan ahead and draft guidelines so that election observation may take place in the most responsible manner.

Download Statement in Sinhala

Download Statement in Tamil

Download Statement in English

“Working Amid a Global Pandemic” – CMEV activities update

This document first provides an overview of some of the interventions made by CMEV in this period. It also details media coverage of CMEV’s activities and interventions. Finally, the document provides a snapshot of activity on CMEV’s official website and Facebook pages, as indicators of CMEV’s online operations during this period.

Download Report in here

National Lists of Political Parties for the Parliamentary General Election 2020

CMEV presents the national lists of persons submitted by each political party and independent group to Election Commission for the Parliamentary General Election 2020 (under article 99 A of the Constitution). 29 out of 225 seats in Parliament are allocated to political parties and independent groups in proportion to their share of the national vote.
The names of the candidates to contest under each electoral district that was submitted during the nomination period (to fill the remaining 196 seats) will also be uploaded soon. 

Download in here

Considerations for Holding an Election During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This short guide has been prepared by CMEV to offer election stakeholders and voters a brief overview of some key considerations for holding an election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It provides an outline of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected elections worldwide; special health and safety measures taken for elections already held worldwide; and important factors to note in the SriLankan electoral context. It is hoped that these considerations are taken into account by all election stakeholders when decisions are made regarding the Parliamentary General Election in Sri Lanka.

Download guide in here

Parliamentary Election 2020 – Joint Announcement of Election Monitoring Organizations

All active election observation missions in Sri Lanka, including CMEV, have issued a joint statement urging all relevant authorities to resolve their issues regarding a new election date with the mutual understanding of not creating a constitutional crisis against the backdrop of COVID19

The joint statement points out that:

  • It is undesirable to head into an election with the Election Commission and the Executive at odds with each other
  • An environment of relief provision to those affected by crisis is not ideal for an election campaign as it can be exploited by candidates for their own political gain, as can already be seen
  • The National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak and health authorities must confirm that the new election date will not put voters and election officials at risk

Download this Statement in Sinhala

Download this Statement in Tamil

Download this Statement in English

CMEV writes to Presidential Task Force on COVID-19

CMEV wrote to Presidential Task Force on COVID19 head Basil Rajapaksa on appointing members for local relief distribution Committees under Circular PTF 03/2020. This process excludes the 40% of reps elected in 2018 Local Govt Elections through lists without fixed electorateshese reps are disproportionately women due to the function of the new mixed election system & the women’s quota. CMEV requested at least the runners up in electorate contests and especially list-level women reps to be included in the Committees.

Download this Letter in Sinhala

Download this in Tamil

CMEV Calls for Postponement of General Election 2020

CMEV Calls for Postponement of General Election 2020

March 17, 2020 – The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is urging the Election Commission to postpone General Election 2020 scheduled for April 25, 2020, in light of the escalating CORVID-19 pandemic.

Many activities required for holding the election bring many people into close contact with each other, thereby posing significant risks of viral transmission. This includes thousands of election officers, party officials, Police officers and election observers being in close proximity to each other at the thousands of polling stations and counting centres across the country; physical contact between election officers and voters as voters are marked with indelible ink and handed ballot papers; and the handling of the same ballot paper by numerous election officials for vote counting purposes. All election campaigning activities, including public rallies and meetings, also bring many people into close contact with each other.

CMEV notes that the ongoing spread of the CORVID-19 pandemic and government measures to combat it (including closures of schools and other public venues, restrictions on mass gatherings and travel restrictions) are likely to have a significant impact on voter turnout on Election Day, and that many voters would be discouraged from voting due to fears of being in close proximity to many others at polling stations. This also broadly impacts voters’ right to freely exercise their vote, and the ability to hold a free and fair election.

CMEV also notes that elections scheduled to be held during the months of March to May have been postponed in many countries including the United Kingdom, France, India and Spain due to the escalating CORVID-19 pandemic.

In terms of postponement, the Election Commission can formally request the President to withdraw Extraordinary Gazette 2165/8, which would have the effect of reversing the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of an election. The Election Commission can alternately, under the gazette with the notice of poll it will issue after the close of nominations, postpone the election unilaterally under the powers it will acquire thereafter.

CMEV is prepared to offer any assistance it can and work with the Election Commission to ensure that General Election 2020 can be held under conditions where Sri Lankans are able to exercise their right to vote in a truly free and fair manner.

CMEV Letter to National Police Commission on Police Transfers During Election Period

March 06, 2020

Mr. Nishantha A. Weerasinghe,
Secretary,
National Police Commission,
Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall Premises,
Block 9,
Colombo 07

Dear Secretary,

Transfers of commissioned and other Police officers during the election period

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) would like to express its appreciation of Sri Lanka Police as one of the key stakeholders of the election process in this country during the previous Presidential Election in 2019. We strongly believe that in the context of the upcoming General Election, Sri Lanka Police will perform its duties in a similarly commendable manner to ensure a free and fair election.

To this end, one of the most decisive factors is creating a conducive background for all police officers working in various locations across the country to be able to perform their duties and responsibilities in an independent manner without any undue influence.

Several reports we have received so far indicate that this policy is not being completely followed. This includes the apparent plans to transfer Mr. Uchith Liyanage, Senior Superintendent of Police of Seethawaka area and place as the Deputy Director of the Women and Child Bureau. Our reports indicate that he is to be replaced by Mr. Sudath Wedamulla, Senior Superintendent of Police who was recently appointed as a Personal Assistant of a Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police after being transferred from Anuradhapura.

In the face of a national level election, CMEV emphasises that any alleged attempts of transferring will be a direct violation of the explicit guidelines provided by the Election Commission. As per usual electoral processes in Sri Lanka, the Police must also consult the Election Commission before any such transfer. In the past when neither the National Police Commission nor the Election Commission had been established, the Department of Elections and the Department of Police jointly managed these kinds of situations in a very coordinated and supportive manner. The work accomplished through such coordination had generated better results too. We also trust that the Inspector General of Police (Acting) has enormous experience of similar essential transfers done in a well-coordinated manner.

Thus, we strongly expect the National Police Commission to pay your kind attention to rectify any such transfers that have either already taken place or will take place. It is the absolute responsibility of the National Police Commission to ensure the independent functioning of the Police service during elections. CMEV also notes that numerous baseless and unanticipated allegations against independent Commissions are being made in the current climate. It is the sole responsibility of the Commissions to build and strengthen their reputations. The National Police Commission can do that here by taking strong, principled decisions and promoting independent practices within Sri Lanka Police in a careful, professional and just manner.

Finally, CMEV will extend our fullest support for any decisions your Commission will take in order to protect and enhance the integrity of electoral processes of this country.

Your attention for above mentioned matters will be highly appreciated.

Manjula Gajanayake,
National Coordinator,
CMEV

Copied to:

  • Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Chairman, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. H.M.T.D. Herath, Secretary, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. C.D. Wickramarathne, Inspector General of Police (Acting) Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.
  • Mr. Saman Sri Rathnayake, Commissioner General, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Priyantha Weerasooriya, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (Elections), Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.
  • Mr. Suranga Ranashinghe, Assistant Election Commissioner, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Ashoka Dharmasena, Senior Superintendent of Police (Director-Elections), Sri Lanka Police, Police Headquarters, Colombo 01.

CMEV Letter to Election Commission on Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Director and Public Officials Engaging in Illegal Election Campaigning

March 06, 2020


Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya,
Chairperson,
Election Commission,
Election Secretariat Office,
Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.

Dear Mr. Deshapriya,

Public Officials Engaging in Illegal Election Campaigning

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) would like to express its appreciation of the Election Commission for some positive decisions that have been already taken based on certain incidents in relation to the upcoming General Election. 

We believe that, similar to the last Presidential Election, there will be a rise in public officials engaging in election campaigning and making undue interventions which contravene their functions.

CMEV wishes to highlight one such incident regarding the Director of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, Doctor A.M.S. Weerabandara, who has been engaging in election campaigning in a very biased and ethnically divisive manner while still remaining a public official.

The extensive efforts being taken by the Election Commission to ensure the integrity of the election process is challenged and put at a high risk by activity such as the above being done without receiving appropriate leave or by terminating the current employment for the purpose of promoting various political parties.

Section 01 of Chapter 32 of the Establishment Code of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, provides limitations through sub-sections 1.1, 1.2.3 and 1.3 on staff officers not being entitled to enjoy political rights, specifically on the establishment of election candidacy or executing initial actions for the purpose of election candidacy. These provisions have been violated by the Director’s actions.

We urge the Election Commission to take immediate action to initiate an investigation on the conduct of the said Director who should be aware of the limitations imposed on a staff officer yet has intentionally both violated the election law and disregarded the medical profession’s rules and regulations related to the public service for the purpose of political gains.  

We urge the Election Commission to use for an investigation:

  • Enclosed observation notes and records compiled by CMEV
  • Acknowledgement by the Director himself that he engaged in such election campaigning
  • The Director’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DrSarath-Weerabandara-105479324381092/
  • An article published in the Ravaya newspaper on March 05, 2020 titled “Hospital Director Disdains the Law”

Your attention and action on this matter will be highly appreciated.

Manjula Gajanayake,
National Coordinator,
CMEV

Copied to:

  • Mr. H.M.T.D. Herath, Secretary, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Saman Sri Rathnayake, Commissioner General, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.
  • Mr. Suranga Ranashinghe, Assistant Election Commissioner, Election Commission, Election Secretariat, Sarana Road, Rajagiriya.

CMEV Commences General Election 2020 Operations

CMEV will be monitoring election law violations, campaign expenses & social media activity, and conducting voter education during the upcoming #GenElecSL as well.

Join us through Facebook, Twitter (twitter.com/cmev) and cmev.org.

මැ.ප්‍ර.නි.ම මෙවරද මැතිවරණ නීති උල්ලංඝනය, මැතිවරණ ප්‍රචාරක වියදම්, ඡන්ද දායකයින් දැනුවත් කිරීම හා සමාජ මාධ්‍ය හැසිරීම පිලිබඳ පුළුල් නිරීක්ෂණයක් සිදු කරනු ලබයි.

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இம்முறையும் CMEV தேர்தல் சட்ட மீறல்கள், தேர்தல் பிரசார செலவுகள் , வாக்காளர்களை விழிப்பூட்டல் மற்றும் சமூக ஊடக செயற்பாடுகள் குறித்து பரந்த கண்காணிப்பை மேற்கொள்கின்றது.

Facebook, Twitter (twitter.com/cmev) மற்றும் CMEV.org ஊடாக எம்மோடு இணைந்திருங்கள்.


ANFREL Hands Over Election Monitoring Report to CMEV

Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) has launched its final report titled ”The 2019 Sri Lankan Presidential Election: A Deepening Political Divide” and a copy of the report was handed over to Mr. Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator of CMEV by Mr. Amaël Vier, Program Officer for Capacity Building and International Election Observation.  

Access to the report : https://anfrel.org/final-mission-report-2019-sri-lankan-presidential-election/