CONTROVERSY WITH REGARD TO THE STATE MEDIA AND THE APPOINTMENT OF A COMPETENT AUTHORITY

14th January 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: It is now abundantly clear that a situation has arisen in which the State-controlled media is acting with complete disregard for the principles of balance and impartiality inherent to any notion of responsible and professional journalism (which apply with even greater force in the case of media institutions that are publicly-owned and tax-payer funded), and in a manner that violates the guidelines issued by the Elections Commissioner under the power vested in him by Article 104B (5) (a) of the Constitution. In terms of Article 104B (5) (b), therefore, the Chairmen, specifically of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, are in breach of a legal duty imposed by the Constitution itself.

In this context, CMEV was pleased to learn that the Elections Commissioner had first identified, then appointed, Mr. Jayampathy Hettiarachchi (formerly of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service) as the Competent Authority in terms of Article 104B (5) (c) of the Constitution and the Competent Authority (Powers and Functions) Act No. 3 of 2002. CMEV also noted that certain political programmes had in fact been suspended due to their violation of the Elections Commissioner’s guidelines.

However, it has been reported that at a meeting on Tuesday, 12th January, with representatives of political parties, candidates and monitors (including representatives of CMEV), the Elections Commissioner had expressed his consternation, among other things, at the lack of co-operation extended by the relevant State media institutions to the Competent Authority, and went so far to suggest that he was considering withdrawing the appointment of Mr. Jayampathy Hettiarachchi as the Competent Authority.

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Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 13

CMEV has received information of a shooting at the UNP party office near the Minnas Private Hospital, Madurankuliya, Puttalam District at approximately 3.50pm. According to the spokesperson of the Puttalam Base hospital Mr. Saman Kumara of Thonigala, Anamaduwa has died as a result of his injuries, while 4 other persons were also admitted to the hospital. 3 of these persons were transferred to the Kurunegala Hospital. The party affiliations of the victims as well as the shooters remain unknown at the moment.

Read the full report here.

Presidential Election 2010: Special Report on murder

16 January 2010: According to North Western Provincial Councilor Mr. Sanath Nishantha Perera (UPFA), at 3.50pm, UNP supporters had shot at UPFA supporters in front of the UNP party office located in front of the Minnas Private Hospital, Madurankuliya, Puttalam District, resulting in the death of UPFA supporter Mr. Saman Kumara of Thonigala, Anamaduwa. According to the Spokesperson of the hospital, 4 other persons had been admitted to the Puttalam Base Hospital of sustained injuries during the shooting, and 3 of them have been transferred to the Kurunegala Hospital. According Director of the Kurunegala Hospital Dr. S. Rajamanthri, the 3 injured persons are not in serious condition. Two of the victims had suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and neck. They had received emergency treatment from the Puttalam Hospital prior to transfer.

Read the full report of the murder here.

Monitoring election violence in Sri Lanka Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 10

CMEV received a report regarding a clash between a group of NDF supporters and a group of supporters of Western Provincial Council Member, Duminda De Silva (UPFA) near the Umagaliya ground, Kolonnawa at around 11.30 pm on 13th January 2010. It is also reported that a tense situation has arisen in the area due to the clash.

The group of supporters of Duminda De Silva, who came in 4 cabs, had intimidated a group of supporters of Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka who were decorating the stage for the meeting scheduled on 14 January. They had brandished a pistol and had attacked them. Subsequently NDF supporters also had attacked the perpetrators by stones according to reports received by CMEV.

According to CMEV special mobile team information, Peter Kelard and Sampath, who sustained injuries, have been admitted to the Colombo General Hospital. When CMEV’s special mobile team visited the place, OIC of the Wellampitiya Police Station, HQI Liyanage and his team had arrived to the scene and Army had been deployed in the area to ascertain the security. It is learnt that no complaint has been made to the police and the tense situation prevails at the time this report goes out.

Read the full report in Sinhala and Tamil here.

Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 9

13 January 2010 Colombo: Sri Lanka when considering the postal voting over the last two day period, CMEV has received a total of 27 incidents related to postal voting.

In addition, approximately 20% of army soldiers who requested votes have been rejected according to reports received by CMEV monitors, which was highlighted in our report yesterday. A further two incidents were reported from Ampara today, the first from Sandunpura Gajaba Infantry 3rd Batallion Camp where 100 persons applied for votes and only one person received their ballot, and the second from the Army 3rd Women’s Core where 163 persons applied for their vote, but only 112 received their ballots.

Full details of incidents are available in our report available as a PDF here.

Photos mentioned in the report above can be seen here and below.

Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 8

At 12.20 pm today, a bus containing UNP supporters was shot at on the Thalunna road in the Hungama area in Thangalle. Ms. Kusumawathie Kuruppuarachchi who suffered gunshot wounds to the stomach was initially admitted to the Thangalla hospital. She was subsequently transferred to the Matara hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, as confirmed by ward 6 staff of the Matara hospital. 2 other persons with injuries were admitted to the Thangalle hospital.

Also, at 1.00am this morning an unknown group lobbed a grenade at the house of SLMC supporter Mr. M.B.S. Hussein’s located in Ottamawadi, Valachchenai. Mr. Hussein called the police at the time of the incident and the police arrived at the scene shortly after.  No persons were injured, however windows, doors, and furniture of the house were damaged. The CMEV monitor was informed of this incident by Mr. L.T.M. Furkhan Pradeshiya Sabha member Valachchenai.

Read the full CMEV report here.

Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 7

11January 2010 Colombo Sri Lanka CMEV has confirmed 176 Major incidents of election related violence as of today, since the gazette notification of presidential election on 23rd November 2009. Most of the major incidents (39) have been reported from the Southern Province. CMEV highlights the most recent confirmed Major incidents in this report.

Download it in full here.

Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 4

The CMEV brought to the attention of the Election Commissioner the illegal display of banners and cutouts in public places and within the premises Government Offices & buildings, by the letter dated 5th January 2010. CMEV appreciates the order given to the Police by the Elections Commissioner, to remove all illegal banners and cutouts from public places and government premises, and institutions on the 5th of January 2010, at the meeting held for party secretaries… CMEV has noted that coinciding with the increase in cutouts the level of violence has increased as a direct result of disputes arising from cutouts and their placement.

Read the media communique in full with more details here.

Laws, Acts, Constitutional Provisions and Amendments relevant to Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka

A compilation of laws, acts, constitutional provisions and amendments relevant to Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka is provided below for easy reference.

Articles 92 – 94 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka (1978)
CHAPTER VII – THE EXECUTIVE – The President of the Republic

17th Amendment to the Constitution

Registration of Electors Act, No. 44 of 1980
ELECTIONS (SPECIAL PROVISIONS) ACT, No. 14 OF 2004
Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 (large PDF, ~8.8Mb)

Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 2

3 January 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV notes with concern the escalation of violence in the Presidential Election. CMEV has received reports of 4 Major Incidents of election related violence on 3 January. Instances of the use of fire arms have gone up to 16. CMEV highlights the most recent two incidents in this press release, including the clash between UPFA and NDF Supporters in Kiribathgoda.

Download the press release as a PDF here.

Presidential Election 2010: Special Media Release on Transfer of SSP Ampara Division

CMEV learnt that the SSP of Ampara Division, J.R.Jayawardhana, has been transferred to the Killinochi Police Division with effect from 01st of January 2010.

CMEV contacted Mr.Jayawardhana on 31st December who told that he received a radio message from the Police Head Quarters, Colombo on 30th December at around 11.30pm stating that he has been transferred to Killinochi Police Division with effect from 01st January. He stated that no reason has been mentioned for his transfer in the radio message.

Read the full press release as a PDF here.

Presidential Elections 2010: Field Visit Report, December 2009

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) visited selected areas of the North and East from 22 -25 December 2009 to identify the issues pertaining to the voter application process for displaced persons, the availability of required identification documents and the general context in which the campaign is being conducted. CMEV met with Government officials, political party representatives, leading civil society actors including religious leaders, the media, academics, and displaced persons.

  • CMEV notes with concern the number of applications – 31,758 – received by the Department of Elections as of 28th December. This figure could be lower since some applications may be rejected. CMEV calls on the Election Commissioner to ensure that every displaced voter who is registered in the 2008 Electoral Register will be able to vote. Considering the issues and confusion pertaining to the application process and given the assurances by senior election officials, CMEV urges the Election Commissioner to issue a special notice to the displaced voters enumerating the application procedure and requisite voter identity documentation, thereby ensuring that neither of these factors will inhibit the fullest exercise of the franchise by displaced persons. CMEV also urges the Commissioner and election officials to make sure that the displaced voters are aware of the location of cluster and special polling centres through their Grama Niladharis and Camp Officers.
  • CMEV calls on the media and civil society organizations to assist the Commissioner’s office as well as through initiatives of their own, on voter education.
  • CMEV calls upon the Commissioner and colleagues to establish an effective mechanism in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Transport Board to assure proper transportation facilities for displaced voters. CMEV urges the line ministry to consider this as a matter of priority and recommends that the Election Commissioner establish a special committee to look into the transportation arrangements.

Read the full report in English, Sinhala and Tamil.