OUR AIM

OUR AIM – The primary aim of CaFFE’s election monitoring agenda is to identify incidents involving violation of electoral law and help determine a conducive atmosphere for citizens to cast their vote during an election in a free and fair manner.

It is the duty of CaFFE and our election observers to impartially report on these incidents without casting a prejudicial opinion to any party or group that violates election laws and disrupts law and order.

Importantly, not reporting ‘baseless rumors’ is one of the main principles of CaFFE monitoring therefore we always double check and use multiple sources to determine the authenticity of any election violation that is reported to us.

We ensure and monitor the atmosphere the election is conducted and we give equal importance to Pre-election monitoring and ‘on the day’ of the election.

CaFFE believes that in order to get an idea and the conditions under which elections are held it is equally important to get an understanding of a pre-election atmosphere that exists in any election area.

CaFFE does this and produce Pre-elections reports and released to the public via the media and on request when contacted by citizens.

The reason is that we wish to be accessible to any citizen who wishes to know the existing environment before an election.

The theoretical reason behind this is CaFFE believes that there are strong connections between incidents that take place during an pre-election period and the prevailing atmosphere that is created through these incidents in correlation to incidents that happen on the election day and the voting behavior of the electorate on the Election Day.

CaFFE has been observing and monitoring all the Elections since 9th April 2008.

Community organizations and activist’s network have assisted in our work in the pre- election period and on the day of elections and after.

The details of the work are well documented and can find in the CaFFE’s official web site (www.caffesrilanka.org).

Since April 2008 we have constantly evolved and expanded our operations.

In the hope of facilitating better operations during elections we have encouraged the establishment of centers at various districts and have created a pool of trained observers and monitors.

Our members today represent all the three communities (eg. Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim as well as individuals from professional backgrounds and religious affiliations.)

Presently the CaFFE’s information gathering process is activated in collaboration with political parties, representatives from all over Sri Lanka who participated in our activities, district level election department officers and political party leadership, assuring the sustainability and impartiality of our actions.

CaFFE is one of the main sources of election information for the media.

CaFFE’s ability to back their claims with photographic evidence is well recognized by all

CaFFE has the best information dissemination center of all the election monitoring bodies in the country, providing digital images, voice, videos, data, facts and figures

CaFFE and its sister organization Center for Human Rights – Sri Lanka (CHR) has the largest network of associates in the northern and eastern provinces.

The organization has field offices, an IDP information center (Menik Farm), and regional offices in the both provinces.

As an organization working for the advancement of human rights and the role it played in monitoring Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) activities , the organization was able to win hearts and minds of the common people across communities.

During the last provincial council elections in central and north western provinces CaFFE carried out the ‘Say NO to Violence’ campaign, making a common platform for all the political parties/candidates who oppose violence.

CaFFE will re-introduce “Say NO to Violence’ campaign in each district during the coming election.

For the first time, CaFFE will train the polling agents and the counting agents on legal issues, counting procedures and the other relevant aspects.

This must be introduced as there will be over 1500 counting centers in the election.

CaFFE was the only election monitoring organization that observed and reported the counting process in last presidential and parliamentary elections.

It is also the only organization monitored the counting during the last local elections.

Through this process, CaFFE network has become a prominent stakeholder in Sri Lanka’s campaign for democracy.

Until 2012 all finances and legal requirements are covered by SNAP and organization was regestered independently under the name CaFFE in 2012.…

WHAT IS CAFFE

WHAT IS CAFFE – Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) was established in April 2008

with an aim to conduct a sustained campaign

to monitor and observe elections and to create a broad forum

to address issues related to the failure of democratic norms in Sri Lanka.

Today CaFFE is a people’s organization, which encompasses members of civil society,

lobby community and religious groups, trade unions, members of political parties and opinion makers.

Though citizen’s groups and NGOs were monitoring elections before,

CaFFE commenced its operations and able to emerge a leading election monitor in a short time

through organization and its desire to challenge by ground realities.

Our election monitors consist of individuals who are from all three communities

and from various religious groups.

CaFFE was created to replace independent organizations which have now lost their impartiality and losing their credibility being biased.

CaFFE is an organization with multi-partiality as its core foundation and with a view

to up hold Democratic values in society.

CaFFE has opened district coordination centers at each district where elections are held and trains election observers

and monitors volunteers to serve during elections periods from within election districts as well as from outside the province that the elections are being held within.

CaFFE’s election information gathering mechanism extends to include representatives of different political parties

and countrywide representatives from all parts of Sri Lanka who go into election areas.

Our members come from political party headquarters, district and electoral offices,

thus making us an in-depth and well embedded local level network of election monitors and observers.…

LLRC SHOULD ENSURE A FREE AND SECURE ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE CAN GIVE EVIDENCE – CHR

LLRC SHOULD ENSURE A FREE AND SECURE ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE CAN GIVE EVIDENCE – CHR – The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) – Sri Lanka stresses that Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) should ensure a free and secure environment where people can give evidence without fearing future persecution in its up-coming sessions in Trincomalee and Mannar, a press release issued by the CHR said yesterday.

The release signed by the CHR’s Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said LLRC’s visit to Jaffna is commendable and the sessions they held are a step towards the healing process. Nevertheless certain incidents which occurred in the Kytes Island on November 14, reports of a systematic intimidation campaign to discourage residents from appearing before the LLRC and the threatening of a Jaffna based journalist, makes the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) wonder whether the LLRC took adequate action to ensure an environment where one can give evidence without fear of future persecution.

Overall there was inadequate media attention to the sessions in Jaffna. A look at the news papers show that there was minimal representation Colombo based main stream media, except one, and civil society organizations, except representatives from the US and Norwegian embassy. It is also a well known secret in Jaffna that local journalists do not cover stories in the islands fearing attacks by groups which had a militant past. Nevertheless it was this minimal outside presence that allowed the Uthayan and Yaal Thinakural news paper reporters to cover the sessions in Kytes. Otherwise Thina Murasu, the EPDP news paper would have been the only local news paper to cover the Kytes sessions.

The LLRC is to visit Trincomalee in early December to take submissions from the people affected by the war. Trincomalee is another area where political parties with a militant past still operate and the LLRC should take steps to ensure that there is a free and secure atmosphere where people can give evidence without fearing future retribution. It should also be alert whether certain groups attempt to prevent people from testifying before it. It is only through accomplishing this that the commission will be able to convince the residents of the North and the East that it is serious in accomplishing its mandate.

It’s very important that LLRC take necessary actions to prevent a repeat of what took place in Kytes and ensure a free and secure environment where people can give evidence without fearing future persecution in its up-coming sessions. In the same time, the Civil Society and the Colombo based media must provide adequate attention and coverage to the LLRC sessions held outside Colombo.…

Not in favour of Muslims returning

Not in favour of Muslims returning – Over 200 000 Northern Muslims, who were driven away from the North in 1990 by the LTTE, are unable to return home due to the lack of information, hostility by the Tamil community and government administrators, claims Dr. Fara Haniffa, University lecturer and member of the Law and Society Trust.

She added that although the government has resettled around 90% of Tamil IDPs in Manik Farm, no such initiative has been taken to resettle the Northern Muslim population who are among the oldest displaced communities in the country.

This has allowed politicians to manipulate them and resettle them in areas that suit the politicians needs.
“Tamil community leaders and government officials have generally welcomed the return of Muslims when talking to LLRC commissioners.

However, the ground reality is that administrators are not sympathetic towards their return.

Some Muslims who had returned to the North told us that their Tamil neighbours asked them ‘why did you come?’ Haniffa said.


Around 70 000 Muslims were forcibly expelled from the Northern Province in October, 1990 and the majority of them now live in the Puttalam district, one of the least developed areas with little resources and opportunities.

Over time the settled population has become greater in numbers than those who were residing in the area originally which have made them resent and fear the Northern Muslims.

“Puttalam is not a friendly place and many residents are tired of sharing the little resources available with Northern Muslims, whom many now consider as intruders.

There have been serious clashes between the two groups in the Al-Mannar area and many of the Northern Muslims, including 60 000 + who still receive rations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR,) want to go back.

However, there are many issues that need to be addressed,” Haniffa said.

Since a large number of the population depend on rations and aid, resettlement in the North means that they will have to discontinue rations in Puttalam to access them in the North.

However, since these are long delays in completing the administrative aspect of this transfer these men and women have to eke out a living in inhospitable areas in both Jaffna and Mannar.


“Most of the people are to be resettled in areas like Marichikaddi and Kondachchi which do not have the most basic facilities, including public transport, access roads or schools.

And some feel that these sudden resettlements in areas which have secondary forest cover is a play by government politicians to increase his vote bank.

That is the biggest problem with this, these people are being manipulated by almost everyone,” she said.

The recent resettlement of 1000 families in Marichikaddi and Paalakkuliya in the middle of the Wilpattu North sanctuary ended in disaster as many residents hurried back unable to cope with the lack of infrastructure and frequent attacks of elephants.

Voters’ rights

The Northern Muslims in Puttalam re-registered voters in the North and they have voted in cluster polling centres in the last 20 years.

However, latest circulars on voter registration state that this practice will be discontinued in the future — which means that they have to either move or register in the North or in Puttalam said CaFFE Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon.

“The point is that most of these people might not even care about this.

The majority live on rations and they lack even the most basic facilities.

To make matters worse no one, the government officials or Muslim political parties, are keen on lettign them know about voting.

Someone should tell them what is going on and the pros and cons of resettling in the North.

But ultimately I fear that a portion will lose their voting rights,” Tennakoon said.…

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT REQUIRED AS TNA REFUSES TO SERVE ON PC – RANIL

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT REQUIRED AS TNA REFUSES TO SERVE ON PC – RANIL – With the TNA refusing to accept Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to nominate one of its MPs to the newly established Parliamentary Council, the stage is now set for a constitutional crisis of sorts, the UNP says.

Ranil Wickremesinghe told a news conference in Colombo yesterday, that he had nominated TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran to the Parliamentary Council, since he, as Opposition leader, was required to submit to the Speaker the name of a parliamentarian for appointment to the Parliamentary Council.

“As the TNA has refused to accept Sumanthiran’s nomination on the grounds that they are opposed to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the question of an amendment to the 18th Amendment has arisen.”…

POLITICIANS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROLIFERATION OF ILLEGAL FIREARMS – RAVI

POLITICIANS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROLIFERATION OF ILLEGAL FIREARMS – RAVI – The United National Party (UNP) Colombo District MP Ravi Karunanayake yesterday said in Parliament that it was politicians who should be held responsible for the proliferation of firearms in the country.

Moving a Private Member’s Motion proposing that if anyone is found in possession of an unlicensed weapon, he or she should be charged under the breach of criminal law with a mandatory jail sentence of 20 years. Karunanayake hailed Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s vow to take action against those who failed to surrender illegal firearms in their possession.

He said it was a timely move. The country has been freed from terrorism and we need to appreciate the government’s role in ridding Sri Lanka of illegal weapons.

Karunanayake blamed India for arming Tamil civilians against the government in the eighties, thereby paving the way for a war that prolonged for three decades. At a time when there was peace in Sri Lanka, its neighbour India, had attempted to create problems in this country by supplying weapons to certain elements.…

OIC’S PUBLIC APOLOGY, VICTORY FOR ALL WOMEN – CHANDRANI BANDARA

OIC’S PUBLIC APOLOGY, VICTORY FOR ALL WOMEN – CHANDRANI BANDARA – United National Party MP, Chandrani Bandara said yesterday that the public apology tendered by the former Bambalapitiya OIC, Upul Seneviratne, for abusing her during a motorcade protest in June 2008, against the high price of petrol, was a victory for all women.

She told a news conference in Colombo that in view of Seneviratne’s admission that he had done wrong and apology in the Supreme Court yesterday, she had decided to withdraw the case.

Relating the incident which had occurred on June 6,2008, Chandrani Bandara said that she and Rosy Senanayake were participating in a motorcade protest in Bambalapitiya, against the governments refusal to reduce petrol prices, in keeping with a Supreme Court order.

“We were in a procession of vehicles in Bambalapitiya and were tooting our car horn in protest. The then OIC of the Bambalapitiya Police ,Upul Seneviratne along with eight other armed policemen came upto our car, abused me in filth and asked us to move on. Subsequently, I filed a police complaint, followed by a court case.”

Chandrani Bandara said that the judgment against Seneviratne was not a personal victory for her, but a triumph for all women.

Rosy Senanayake MP said that the day after Chandrani had been abused; it was disgraceful to see senior government figures garlanding Seneviratne, in front of the Bambalapitiya Police Station. “Among those present were the Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana and A.H.M. Azwer. It was shocking to see them endorse the abusive action of the OIC.”

She said that despite Seneviratne carrying out a “government contract”, no one was present to garland him, after he was reprimanded and asked to tender an apology, by Justice Shirani Thilakawardena, who presided over the case.

Incidents of this nature have once again highlighted the importance of implementing the 17th amendment to the constitution. If an independent Police Commission had been in existence, OIC Seneviratne could not have been pressurized to act in an uncivilized manner, she said.…

ELECTED LG, PC MEMBERS TO STUDY UNPREFORMS FULL TEXT OF PROPOSED REFORMS INSIDE

ELECTED LG, PC MEMBERS TO STUDY UNPREFORMS FULL TEXT OF PROPOSED REFORMS INSIDE – Chairman of the Committee, Joseph Michael Perera addressing a news conference in Colombo said that UNPers, especially elected representatives in the local and provincial councils, would be given four days to study and submit their views, if any, on his committee’s recommendations.

“Once all suggestions are received we will, along with our proposals accepted in principle, by the leadership, submit them to the Working Committee for its perusal and approval.

Thereafter, they would have to go before the Executive Committee and finally the National Convention, which will have to ratify any changes proposed to the party Constitution.”

The recommendations had been accepted in principle by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe also, he said.

The UNP’s next annual convention is scheduled to be held either in June or July this year.

Perera, said that his committee hasd suggested that the Leader Deputy Leader, Assistant Leader, Chairman and National Organiser be elected by the new Working Committee, that is to come into existence, once the constitution was amended.

Asked if the elections would be through a show of hands or secret ballot, he said it would by consensus.

In the event there was a competition for any of the posts at stake, a secret ballot would be taken.

Perera said that the five elected office bearers would be empowered to form a committee and appoint all other office bearers.

The only exception would be the General Secretary who would be appointed by the leader, in consultation with the Working Committee.

The Political Affairs Committee, he said, would be chaired by the elected Deputy Leader and would not exceed 11 members including the General Secretary, Chairman and National Organiser and one member to represent each province. The quorum shall be four members.

The Joseph Michael Perera committee comprised Kabeer Hasheem(Secretary)John Amaratunga, Lakshman Kiriella, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Ronald C. Perera.…

CONSPIRACY BY THE GOVT

CONSPIRACY BY THE GOVT – The UNP which commented on the US attempt to quiz Chief of Defence Staff Gen.Sarath Fonseka, said that it was a totally unwarranted act.


UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said this could also be a conspiracy by the government to scuttle the possible plan by Gen. Fonseka to enter politics.

“It is speculated that Gen. Fonseka is planning to join politics. Earlier, many other government officials and ministers visited the US.

But, they were not questioned by the US government. So, this can be part of the conspiracy hatched by the government to block Gen. Fonseka’s entry into politics,” Mr. Attanayake said.…

AIM OF MINORITY ALLIANCE, TO SOLVE COMMON ISSUES

AIM OF MINORITY ALLIANCE, TO SOLVE COMMON ISSUES – The alliance of political parties of the minority communities, that is now being forged is not an electoral alliance, instead, its an alliance to represent their common problems and aspirations, affirmed leaders of the parties said.

Constituent parties to the alliance would take their own independent decisions on supporting or forming electoral alliances with any of the major political parties in future elections and a consensus on that was reached at a meeting held last Wednesday, they said.

Leaders of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Democratic People’s Liberation Front (DPLF), Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF-P) and the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) attended this meeting held in Colombo.

Some other political parties of the minorities are expected to join the alliance, the organisers said.

SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem MP told the Sunday Observer that the alliance was being forged for ‘collective bargaining’ on major political issues that are common to the minorities of the North, East and the Central Hill Country, including problems of the IDPs.

The long unresolved ethnic problem and early steps for a negotiated political settlement would be one more area which they would take up as common issue affecting Tamil-speaking people, he said.

They believed that unitedly they would be in a position to make considerable progress on all issues affecting the minorities, he said. A media conference would soon be held on the alliance and its program of action.

TULF leader V. Anandasangari and DPLF (PLOTE) leader Tharmalingam Sitharthan also expressed similar views on the alliance.…