Election Violations Update #1 (July 15, 2020)

In the lead up to General Election 2020, CMEV will be providing periodic updates of election violations it has observed and recorded.

This first update covers the period from March 2 to July 12 (the dissolution of Parliament until the start of postal voting).

පළමු සිද්ධි වාර්තාකරණය :මැතිවරණ ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා නිරීක්ෂණ මධ්‍යස්ථානය (CMEV) මඟින්  නිරීක්ෂණය සහ වාර්තා කරන ලද මැතිවරණ නීති උල්ලංඝණය කිරීම් හා ප්‍රචණ්ඩ ක්‍රියා පිළිබඳ පළමු වාර්තාව  

මෙම  වාර්තාව මඟින් අනාවරණය කරනු ලබන්නේ 2020 මාර්තු 2 සිට ජූලි 12 (පාර්ලිමේන්තුව විසුරුවා හැරීම සිට තැපැල් ඡන්ද ආරම්භය) දක්වා කාල සීමාවේ සිදු වූ සිද්ධීන් හා සබැඳි වාර්තාය.

2020 பாராளுமன்றத் தேர்தல் சட்ட மீறல்கள் மற்றும் வன்முறை சம்பவங்கள் குறித்து சி.எம்.இ.வி யின் கண்காணிப்பு அறிக்கை.

இந்த முதல் அறிக்கை மார்ச் 2 முதல் ஜூலை 12 வரையிலான காலத்தை உள்ளடக்கியது. (பாராளுமன்றம் கலைக்கப்பட்டதிலிருந்து அஞ்சல் வாக்களிப்பு தொடங்கும் வரை).

CMEV Statement on Gazetted COVID-19 Elections Regulations

July 19, 2020 – The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) welcomes the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services finally gazetting the COVID-19 Elections Regulations on July 17, 2020. This comes 38 days after the ‘Health Guidelines for Conducting the Elections amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak’ (‘the original guidelines’) were first issued by the Ministry on June 09, 2020 and only 19 days before Election Day. Moreover, CMEV expresses its concern that a number of changes have been made to the original guidelines from when they were first published to them being gazetted as regulations. In particular:

  • the maximum number of persons permitted to attend a meeting has been increased from 100 to 300, and 500 if the party leader is attending
  • the maximum number of persons permitted to engage in door-to-door canvassing has been increased from 3 to 5
  • numerous provisions in the original guidelines have been omitted from the gazetted regulations altogether, including provisions relating to: checking and bundling of ballot papers at District Returning offices (section 2.5 of the original guidelines); polling booths (2.9); conducting election in the quarantine centres (2.10); receiving ballot boxes at counting centres (2.11); counting centre etiquette (2.12); results tabulation centres (2.13); transport of staff and materials (2.14); special instructions for Police officers (3); disinfection (4); waste disposal (5); after the election (6). Also missing is the Health Administrative Structure outlined in section 7 to implement the guidelines.

CMEV is alarmed by these changes given that the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country appears to be worsening. Relaxing physical campaigning restrictions is likely to expose more voters to COVID-19 through increased campaigning activities. Relaxing the restrictions on meeting attendance depending on the attendance of party leaders seems especially illogical.

Taking all this into consideration, CMEV requests the Minister of Health and Indigenous Medical Services and the Director-General of Health Services to:

  • Gazette the remaining provisions in the originally published guidelines, and
  • Provide an explanation to the voting public about why the originally published guidelines have been relaxed in this manner, and what steps they will take if the relaxed guidelines contribute to the pandemic situation becoming worse
  • Work with healthcare workers, particularly PHIs, to resolve existing issues and to promote the regulations and educate the public

CMEV is fully committed to the election being held in a free, fair and safe manner, however, it insists that the government and health authorities have a responsibility to guarantee the health of all voters in the process, beyond short-term partisan electoral gains.

Download this statement in English
Download this statement in Sinhala

CMEV inquires about delay in gazetting election Health Guidelines

CMEV wrote to the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and the Director General Health Services questioning the unusual delay in gazetting COVID19 Health Guidelines for conducting the Parliamentary General Election. CMEV seeks assurance that the delay is not for any political advantage.

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

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 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 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.

Facebook, Twitter (twitter.com/cmev.) සහ cmev.org හරහා අපත් සමග එකතු වන්න.

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/