Archive for the ‘Media reports’ Category
Download this PR as a PDF here.
25 September 2014: The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has been informed of 9 incidents of violence after the conclusion of the Uva Provincial Council elections held on 20th September 2014. The incidents reported to CMEV include incidents where UPFA supporters were involved in making threats to and/or damaging property of opposition candidates (particularly JVP and UNP). CMEV is concerned with the ongoing violence and the lack of accountability for it, which denotes the prevailing culture of impunity.
Although the Department of Police claimed to have a strict security apparatus to deal with post-election violence, these measures have been insufficient to deal with the violence that has erupted. Subsequent to the outbreak of post-election violence, the Police took action to deploy additional officers to neutralise the situation. It is evident that due to this action further violence was prevented and communities who feared an escalation of violence, reassured that this would not be the case. These incidents highlight the need for pre-empting post-election violence and taking necessary measures to prevent such situations.
CMEV is especially concerned by the incidents that transpired in Mahiyanganaya. A significant number of incidents were reported from the day of nominations to the post-election period. All three independent election observer organisations: CMEV, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), issued a joint statement highlighting these concerns. Following pre-election violence that transpired in Mahiyanganaya, the Election Commissioner, at a meeting held on the 10th September requested that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) takes necessary measures to respond to the situation and to take pre-emptive measures against any outbreak of violence. The IGP thereafter deployed 30 STF personnel to the area. CMEV learns that the STF personnel were withdrawn a day prior to the election redeployed on Election Day and withdrawn once more soon after the election. These measures are contrary to what the IGP agreed to at the meeting convened by the Election Commissioner on 10th September where he gave an undertaking that the Uva province DIG would provide security to opposition parties and take steps to prevent violence in the remainder of the campaign, on Election day and the post – election period. CMEV condemns continuing violence and urges all law enforcement agencies and political party leaders to take necessary measures to prevent further violence and to take action against those who are involved in and complicit in such violence.
Following are some of the incidents recorded by CMEV in the post-election period:
Attack on the residence of JVP Provincial Council candidate
The residence of JVP Uva Provincial Council candidate P. P. G. Wijesiri was attacked by an unidentified group at 12.30 a.m on the 22nd September. The said residence is located at Singhasiripura, Madurukatiya, Kumbukkana in Moneragala District. Subsequent to switching off street lights, the attackers shattered three windows and partially damaged a room. Mr. Wijesiri has lodged a complaint (No. 51) regarding the incident with the Moneragala Police. When contacted by CMEV, the Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded.
Attack on UNP Provincial Council candidate
Roy Kalinga, former opposition leader of Wellawaya Pradeshiya Sabha and candidate of the UNP for the Uva Provincial Council, was assaulted by an unidentified group using clubs at his residence in Athili-wewa, Dambarawa, Wellawaya on the 22nd September. The group arrived in 2 white defender vehicles at 2 a.m and also attacked his vehicles. He was subsequently admitted to the Sirigala hospital in Moneragala and is being treated at ward No. 02 (photos available). The hospital confirmed that 2 persons were admitted and the condition of Mr. Kalinga is not serious. Mr. Kalinga’s spouse lodged a complaint (No. 52) on the incident with the Wellawaya police. When contacted, Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded.
Attack on the residence of JVP Provincial Council candidate’s father
The residence belonging to the father of JVP Provincial Council candidate W. M. A. K Wickramasinghe Bandara was attacked by an identified group at 12.45 a.m on the 22nd September. The residence is located at Obbegoda, Dambagalla, in Moneragala District. When contacted by CMEV, Mr. Bandara claimed that the attack was due to his father’s involvement in his election campaign. The Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded as complaint No. 53.
Attack on UNP Pradeshiya Sabha member
UNP member of Hali-Ela Pradeshiya Sabha, Chandana Ranmuthugala was assaulted allegedly by UPFA supporters, identified by Mr. Ranmuthugala as Nihal and Jayaweredana. The incident occurred on the 20th September when Mr. Ranmuthugala was on his way to the Badulla counting center close to the Lunugalla polling center. Mr. Ranmuthugala was admitted to ward No. 9 in Badulla hospital. A complaint regarding the incident has been made to the Badulla Police.
Attack on UNP supporter
R.M. Gunathilaka, supporter of UNP Provincial Council candidate Harin Fernando, was assaulted at his residence at midnight on the 20th September subsequent to threats made at 7 p.m allegedly by a group of persons led by vice chairman (UPFA) of Badulla Pradeshiya Sabha. A complaint regarding the incident has been made to the Badulla Police.
Attack on the vehicle of UNP Provincial Council candidate
Following news that the UNP party office in Hali Ela was set on fire, UNP Provincial Council candidate Harin Fernando and supporters were rushing to the area when an armed, unidentified group stoned the vehicle convoy. The incident took place around 5 p.m on 22nd September when the convoy was passing Hali Ela junction. 3 vehicles were damaged in the incident but no casualties were reported. A spokesperson for Mr. Fernando claimed that the Badulla Police took almost 2 hours to take the complaint.
The situation subsided without further violence or damage caused by the sharp weapons that were carried by the mob, due to the Police being deployed to disperse the mob. The incident took place in an area with a heavy Muslim population. The community was apprehensive about the violence. Mr. Fernando has informed CMEV that the mob blamed villagers of Hali Ela for UPFA electorate’s defeat. Mr. Fernando further informed CMEV that UPFA Badulla district MP Dilan Perera was amongst the mob. CMEV could not reach Mr. Perera for a statement.
During the incident, a journalist from the Lankadeepa newspaper, Chandana Kuruppuarachchi, was attacked by the mob. He claimed that the mob chased him for a distance of almost 1km and pelted stones at him. He was admitted to the Badulla hospital with a few broken teeth.
Attack against the Supporter of UNP Mahiyanganaya Organizer
CMEV received reports both from the field as well as through a complaint made by Upali Senaratne, UNP organizer for Mahiyangana electorate, that politicians were threatening opposition supporters in the Mahinaganaya area.
One incident was recorded at 7 p.m from Adaulpatha, Redeemaliyadda, Mahiyanganaya, where the driver of Mr. Senaratne’s, Chaminda Sampath, was allegedly attacked by supporters of UPFA MP for Badulla district, Thenuka Vidanagamage. He was later admitted to the Badulla hospital.
Another incident was recorded from the same area. Mr. Senaratne alleged that a three-wheeler belonging to Priyantha Kumara, one of his supporters, was damaged by UPFA supporters on the 22nd September.
A further incident was reported from the Mahiyangana police station, when Mr. Senaratne and his supporters were attempting to make a complaint to the Police officer in charge of elections. Mr. Senaratne and his supporters alleged that they were threatened and beaten by supporters of UPFA Provincial Council candidate Anura Vidanagama. Mr. Vidanagama himself had at the Police station threatened Mr. Senaratne and supporters. This incident took place in the presence of ASP S. Wedamulla from the Mahiyangana Police division. When contacted by CMEV, Mr. Vidanagama claimed that these were false allegations. He directed any further inquiries to the Mahiyangana Police who he claimed was conducting an impartial investigation into the complaints.
NDI-USA has just published Monitoring and Mitigating Electoral Violence through Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observation.
This is a guide book informed by lessons learnt around election monitoring shared by international election observers who attended a workshop held in Bangkok in 2013. The Executive Director of CPA, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, was also part of this workshop.
NDI-USA visited CMEV to gather details for this guide, and have highlighted CMEV’s experience in several places throughout the guide, including on page 19, 30 and 52, as well as in the main Sri Lanka case study on page 81.
This is the first guide specifically focused on outlining and systematizing strategies and methods for citizen election observers to monitor and mitigate electoral violence. The guide outlines an overall approach for designing electoral violence monitoring and mitigation strategies, and then takes a practical look at four key areas in which citizen observers can contribute to mitigating electoral violence: (1) long-term election observation; (2) traditional and social media monitoring, reporting on hate speech, and contributing to media accountability; (3) crowdsourcing and visualizing electoral violence-related data; and (4) grassroots electoral violence mitigation and mediation efforts.
Download the final report on election related violence and malpractices during the Presidential Election 2010 in English here (Warning: PDF size ~120Mb).
To view the complete report online, click here or see below. Sinhala and Tamil versions of the report will be available soon.
20 April 2010, Sri Lanka, 5pm: Re-polling in 34 polling centers in Nawalapitiya Polling Division, Kandy District and in Kumburupitiya Polling Station (Number 78), Trincomalee Polling Division, Trincomalee District was carried out between 7 am and 4pm today. CMEV monitored the re-polling with 4 mobile teams and 34 stationary monitors in Nawalapitiya and 1 mobile team and 1 stationary monitor in Kumburupitiya.
In both districts CMEV reported nine (09) incidents during the polling period including incidents of attempted impersonation, illegal casting of ballots, verbal abuse of SPOs, transporting of voters and impersonation of monitors.
CMEV notes that there were few incidents of election related violence during this re-poll. This is a significant change from April 8th when a high number of incidents were reported which resulted in the Commissioner of Elections calling for a re-poll. The violence free environment can be attributed to a high presence of police and military around polling stations. CMEV estimates a provisional voter turnout of 65% in Nawalapitiya and 46% in Kumburupitiya, Trincomalee. This demonstrates a lack of interest among voters in the present election.
CMEV reiterates the importance of free and fair elections which reinforce public confidence and ensures the integrity of the poll. CMEV has continuously called for and reiterates its call again for the immediate implementation of the 17th Amendment and the establishment of the Election Commission.
At the close of polls the following incidents were reported to CMEV:
Verbal Abuse of a SPO: CMEV Election Observer reported that Luxman Kirielle, UNP Candidate (No.08) and Ravi Karunanayake (UNP MP elected from Colombo district) had come to the Polling Station No. 05, (Senadhikari National School) at Udahenthanne around 11.40am. When the SPO informed them that Ravi Karunanayake was not entitled to enter the Polling Station, Luxmam Kirielle had verbally abused the SPO and left the polling station.
Illegal Casting of Ballot in Nawalapitiya: CMEV Election Observer reported that a person with a bogus ballot paper attempted to vote around 1.15pm at Warakawa junior school Polling Station No. 36, in Nawalapitiya Electorate in the Kandy District. This is the second such incident reported from this Polling Station today. The earlier incident took place at around 10.10am.
Attempted Impersonation: CMEV Election Observer reported an attempt at voter impersonation at M.S. Aluthgamage Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station No. 17, in Nawalapitiya Electorate where a voter had come to cast his vote with his National ID card and his father’s Polling Card. When the Electoral Register was examined it was revealed that the name of the person with the NIC was not in the Register. He was handed over to the police by the SPO for attempting voter impersonation.
9 April 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: On Election Day CMEV recorded 84 Major Incidents, including 53 incidents of Intimidation within the vicinity of polling centers. This figure includes 07 incidents of involving election officials, 07 incidents of Threat and Intimidation and 06 Assaults. CMEV has recorded 189 incidents of election law violations as well. When compared to the last Presidential election, there were a higher number of incidents of election related violence on the day of the poll.
We wish to record our deep concern about incidents in which polling agents were evicted from polling stations, sometimes forcefully. Furthermore, there were cases of voter obstruction and alleged attempts to rig the results reported from Nawalapitiya and Trincomalee. We have received numerous reports regarding voter impersonation in Puttalam, Kathankudy, Akkraipattu and Pottuvil.
According to CMEV field reports, the failure of polling agents to report objections relating to malpractice and irregularities, the absence of opposition polling agents and the deliberate failure of many SPOs to implement the law with regards to verifying the identity of voters, greatly facilitated voter impersonation.
CMEV also wishes to express its concern about the confusion and disarray relating to the application of indelible ink on the ring finger of voters. There has been a clear disregard of the Election Commissioner’s directive relating to this practice. During the first few hours of polling, ink was applied to both the ring and the little fingers of many voters. CMEV received such reports from all over the country, particularly Vavuniya, Deraniyagala, Colombo, Wattala, Puttalam, Kalawewa and Minneriya. When CMEV questioned this malpractice, many SPOs stated that they were unaware of the Commissioner’s directive on this matter.
CMEV notes that the Election Commissioner has suspended the counting of ballots from 34 polling stations in Nawalapitiya, and one polling station in the Trincomalee District. CMEV requested the Election Commissioner to annul polling in the Nawalapitiya electorate due to complaints received from the field about violence and irregularities. However, as of yet the Election Commissioner has not issued a gazette notification on his decision to annul the ballots in these polling stations and hold a second poll in them.
CMEV has received a number of complaints regarding the transparency of procedures followed by election officials at polling centers. According to the complaints received, officers who issued ballot papers to voters had marked the voters’ registration number on the counter foil of the ballot paper. Complainants’ claimed that this practice directly affected the secrecy of their vote. When CMEV contacted the Election Commissioner’s department regarding this issue, CMEV was informed that this is a normal procedure followed in polling centers and that at the closure of the polling centre all counter foils should be sealed, to be reopened only upon the receipt of a direct court order. The department further added that this procedure serves to safeguard the secrecy of voter identity.
CMEV learnt that people were suspicious and even fearful of this procedure, believing that their ballot papers could be traced. We urge the Election Commissioner to keep people well informed about election procedures, allay their doubts and fears, thereby ensuring increased and unfettered participation of voters in any election.
On the basis of the reports received from its monitors throughout the campaign and on Polling Day, CMEV concludes that as in the Presidential Election, the integrity of the electoral process has been undermined by violence and malpractice and strongly urges all actors to treat this seriously and take effective action to protect and strengthen the integrity of the process. We also conclude that despite this, the overall result does reflect the will of the electorate. CMEV also wishes to underscore the point that election monitors are not allowed to observe the counting of votes.
CMEV is concerned about post-election violence. CMEV highlights the importance of the immediate post-election period, and calls upon party leaders to demonstrate their commitment and respect for the rule of law by deterring post-election lawlessness among their party supporters, and political vengeance against opponents.
CMEV continues to receive reports relating to incidents of post-election violence. A CMEV stationary monitor was assaulted by an unknown group and his observation forms snatched in Nawalapitiya, yesterday (April 8th), at around 1930 hours.
Today (April 9th) CMEV received reports detailing a clash between supporters of UPFA candidate C.B.Ratnayake (candidate no. 02) and Saliya Bandara Dissanayke, Chairman of the Central Provincial Council, in Ragala, Brookside, at around 1715 hours.
CMEV learnt that Saliya campaigned in support of UPFA candidate Naveen Dissanayake (candidate no. 04), and that H.M.Dharmapala, a supporter of Ratnayake, received a gunshot wound to the hip. This injury was allegedly inflicted by Saliya. Dharmapala has since been admitted to the District Hospital. Ralgala Police Station confirmed this incident.
Today CMEV also received reports regarding another shooting in Millawana, Matale at around 1700 hours, allegedly committed by Naradha Millawana, a UPFA member of Pallepola Pradeshiya Sabha. L.D.Nandasiri, a former member of Galewala Pradeshiya Sabha, was grievously wounded in his right eye and was admitted to the Matale General Hospital. He has subsequently been transported to the Kandy General Hospital.
CMEV also received reports regarding a clash between supporters of UPFA candidates Pavithra Wanniarachchi (candidate no. 02) and John Senaviratne (candidate no. 09) near the residence of Pavithra, located in Rilhena, Pelmadulla at around 1800 hours today. When contacted, Kahawatha Police informed CMEV that a tense situation had arisen when the two groups confronted each other, but that both groups had dispersed before the situation worsened. CMEV learnt that the alleged perpetrator was a supporter of UPFA candidate Lakshman Wasantha Perera (candidate no. 01).
CMEV is concerned about the increased intra party violence during the campaign and in the post-election period, and reiterates its call to political parties, in particular the ruling party alliance, to refrain from violence.