Friday Forum has requested the Elections Commissioner to take the proposed deployment of 152 riot squads and setting up of road blocks in the run up to the Elections , (as stated in the Daily Mirror newspaper of 24th December) under him. The Friday Forum statement says ‘that they be deployed under you and and get their instructions from you, ‘as the common purpose seems to be to ensure a ‘peaceful election’.
Further the Friday Forum has made number of recommendations to the EC including public awareness on the electoral process and making complains mechanism of the EC trilingual and multimedia.
Full statement fellows:
Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya,
Commissioner of Elections,
The upcoming Presidential Election in January 2015 has, more than any other election before this, generated much interest and involvement amongst all Sri Lankans, as it is seen as an election that will decide on whether democratic governance with respect for law and order and independence of institutions will be restored or if the type of executive presidency we have seen in the recent past will continue. While we do understand the hard task that will be faced by your staff and all those responsible for conducting a free and fair election, the Friday Forum calls on you to do the following.
We call upon you to publish in all major newspapers, in all 3 languages, the relevant sections of the Presidential Elections Act, particularly Part V which lists out actions deemed to be election malpractices, so that the public could be made aware and report these actions to your Department, wherever they are carried out, with relevant proof.
Publicize through all forms of media, the documents that would be accepted as valid proof of identity for voting purposes so that it would not be left to the discretion of the Presiding Officer of any polling station.
We call upon you to give a comprehensive briefing of election procedures to all those involved in the conduct of the polls, especially those in charge of polling stations, polling agents, counting officers, Election monitors and observers.
The Friday Forum considers it essential that the role and mandate of the Police and others involved in providing security for the elections are explained to them, particularly the Officers In Charge of police stations island wide so that those breaking the law would be dealt with impartially. We note with concern the incidents already in the news, particularly the on-going saga in Wanduramba. It is also ominous to note the deployment of 152 riot squads and setting up of road blocks in the run up to the Elections to quell any unrest, as stated in the Daily Mirror newspaper of 24th December, quoting the Police Media Spokesman. We call upon you to insist that they be deployed under you and get their instructions from you, as the common purpose seems to be to ensure a ‘peaceful election’.
In order to report any election malpractice, we note that your website has a procedure to e-mail any complaint to you under the heading ‘Tell the Commissioner’. We ask that you ensure that e- mails can be sent in all 3 languages together with photos, video clips and documents in formats commonly used in mobile phones and cameras. This account will also have to be manned 24/7 in order that your staff alert you of incidents being reported by the public.
We call upon you to also publicize widely a hotline number that is manned 24/7, so that people from all over can phone in and report incidents as they unfold on election day. The assistance of PAFFREL, CaFFE and other organizations committed to the conducting of fair elections could be sought for this purpose.
The 2013 Registered electors list according to Polling Divisions is up on your website. It would be good if the 2014 list is put up prior to the Elections as it must be finalized by now.
The Nation is looking to you as the supreme authority constitutionally empowered to safeguard the electoral process in our land at this crucial election, and the Friday Forum urges you to use all the authority vested in your office to ensure this.
Professor Savitri Goonesekere
On behalf of The Friday Forum