What is CaFFE?
Essentially CaFFE is a people's organization, which encompasses members of the civil society, lobbying groups, religious groups, trade unions, political parties and opinionated individuals coming together to Campaign for Free and Fair Elections.
Our election monitors consist of individuals who are from Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities and from various religious groups. CaFFE was created to replace independent organizations which have now lost their impartiality and therefore lost their credibility as a being unbiased. CaFFE is an organization with multi-partiality as its core foundation and with a view to hold up Democratic values in society. This is the crucial difference that is required to hold up Democratic values in our society.
CaFFE opens district coordination centers at each district where elections are being held and trains election observers and monitors who volunteer to serve during elections periods from within election districts as well as from outside the province that the election is 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.What is our aim?
The primary aim of CaFFE's election monitoring agenda is to identify incidents involving the violation of electoral law and to also help determine whether there was 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 of group that violates election laws and disrupts law and order conditions. Importantly, not reporting 'baseless rumors' is one of the main principles of CaFFE monitoring therefore we always cross examine and use multiple sources to determine the authenticity of any election violation that is reported to us. To ensure that we monitor the atmosphere that the election is conducted in we give equal importance to Pre election monitoring and 'on the day' election monitoring.How do we do it?
CaFFE believes that in order to understand the conditions under which Elections are held it is equally important to get an idea of a pre-election atmosphere that exists in any election area. CaFFE does this and then produces Pre-elections Report that are released to the public via the media and on request if we are directly contacted by citizens. The reason for this is that we wish to be accessible to any citizen who wishes to know the election environment that exists before an election. The theoretical reason behind this is because CaFFE believes that there are strong connections between incidents that take place during an pre-election period and the atmosphere that is created through these incidents in correlation to incidents that happen on election day and the voting behavior of the electorate on Election Day.
The basic 'yard stick' that we use to analyze pre-election periods is whether there is an atmosphere or environment that is conducive towards conducting a free and fair election. To accomplish this objective CaFFE observations are concentrated on:
- Whether law and order prevailed during the pre-election period in the relevant areas?
- The manner in which state resources are utilized during the pre-election phase.
- The manner in which the state media is utilized for election campaigning.
- And whether election laws are properly adhered to during the election?