Transparency International Sri Lanka’s Election monitoring exercise the Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) recommends the authorities to introduce laws to ensure that public resources are not used for election campaigning purposes with or without payments as it disrupts public life and creates an unfair advantage towards those with power and influence.
As a monitoring body that was directly involved in the electoral process, the PPPR recommends that the Sri Lankan election authority needs to transition from a Department to a fully-fledged Election Commission. It needs to be provided with a central role in ensuring the proper functioning of democracy and preserving the democratic framework in the country.
At the launch of the PPPR final report these recommendations were propose to further strengthen the integrity of the electoral process in Sri Lanka. The below mentioned recommendations include feedback and comments from the districts obtained in consultation with the PPPR’s network of coordinators.
- Introduce mechanisms to make all heads of government institutions accountable for all movable and immovable public assets under the supervision of the Commissioner of Elections.
- All public assets should be easily identifiable by the public. The official government logo should be visible on the body of all government vehicles with the exception of assigned vehicles. Rented vehicles should also carry the government logo for identification purposes.
- Public ceremonies highlighting the success of development programs should not be held during the campaign period.
- Once an election is declared all State media institutions should come under the supervision of the Election Commission or the Commissioner. Laws should be amended to enable the Election Commissioner to appoint a competent authority to oversee State media institution. The Commissioner should also be authorised to supervise and issue guidelines to all private media institutions to prevent election malpractices.
- Public sector appointments, transfers and promotions should not be done without the permission of the Elections Commissioner.
- Electioneering by public officials on duty should be made a punishable offence under criminal law.
- Strengthen the election law by incorporating regulations that makes it mandatory for the Party Secretary or the leader(s) of the independent group(s) to declare campaign expenditure and sources of funding to ensure the transparency of election financing. Introduce campaign expenditure ceiling based on the electorate and number of voters.
- The resort to the regular courts to rectify election related violations of the law is a slow process. A special elections court should be appointed to provide speedy remedies to violations of the election law.
- Elections Commissioner should be vested with the power to recover the cost of abuse from errant candidates and other relevant parties immediately.
- Election law to be amended to accommodate election monitors in the ballot counting process.
- Introduce a predetermined calendar of elections, to prevent elections being conducted at different times at the discretion of the ruling party, through the dissolution of individual provincial and local authorities. No snap elections are to be held except when an elected authority, including the Parliament, has been defeated on a no-confidence vote.
- There needs to be transparency in campaign finance. The declaration of donors needs to be on an ongoing basis. Once the election ends, the parties need to submit audited accounts to the Elections Commission.
- Promote the usage of transparent ballot boxes.
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