- Ample opportunity to hold debate before 8th Feb
- Only judicial mechanism can ensure justice & accountability on Bond & PRECIFAC reports
- Media Organisations facing a coverage dilemma
- Elections Commission’s authority must not be undermined
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is concerned by the decision to convene parliament on the 8th February, when the moratorium on campaigning for the local government elections comes into effect. TISL believes that convening parliament during the moratorium will provide an undue opportunity for political parties represented in parliament to engage in campaigning for the elections, which unfairly disadvantages parties and independent groups not represented in parliament.
TISL wishes to highlight that there is ample opportunity between now and the 8th February to convene a sitting of parliament to debate the reports of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Treasury Bond Issuances and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption (PRECIFAC).
TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere added that “whilst in a local government election there are a gamut of factors which should motivate the voters’ choice, most importantly the suitability of the candidates, the coverage of the Bond & PRECIFAC debate would provide more information to the public, which will enhance the voters’ ability to make an informed decision.”
Furthermore, if the debate is held on the 8th February, media institutions which cover the debate could find themselves contravening the guidelines issued by the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka, aggravating the dilemma.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that in the alleged bond scam and the cases highlighted by PRECIFAC, the recourse to ensure justice and accountability is through the judiciary. Law enforcement agencies, including the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), are empowered to file action on both matters without requiring a debate in parliament.
While recognizing that the debate in parliament on the Bond Commission and PRECIFAC reports is already overdue, TISL asserts the importance of ensuring that the local government elections are free and fair, and that the authority of the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka is not undermined.