Civil Society gathered to monitor elections since 1987 to address recurring political and electoral violence as violence among parties was a common occurrence since 1960’s and 70’s, especially in 1977 general elections saw post-election violence on an unprecedented scale. Even though election observation is not recognized by law, Sri Lanka citizens were permitted to observe most elements of the electoral process at the discretion of the Election Commissioner. Starting since 1988, the nonpartisan citizen observer group documented violence and identified trends concerning political tension, raised public awareness on electoral violence, and also addressed the underlying social and systematic factors that contribute to political violence. The domestic observer groups also worked closely the with Election Commission and the police to ensure that election law violation were address.
In 2015 election, the CSOs, religious leaders, rights activists organized rally and a petition to demand honest candidates, vote fairness. At the end of the campaign, more than a million people signed the petition demanding that clean candidates be elected based on 8 criteria, including a ban on anyone involved in criminal activities and corruption, as well we equal opportunity for women and young people.
The Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) have long histories of working to address Sri Lanka’s election-related violence. CMEV employs a “name and shame” approach focused on raising public awareness and diminishing the culture of impunity, while PAFFREL seeks to mitigate electoral violence through more targeted engagement and mediation with electoral stakeholders.
Monitoring and Mitigating Election-Related Violence: Civil Society Experiences in Sri Lanka, Global Network of Domestic Monitors, http://www.gndem.org/srilanka-monitoring-mitigating-election-related-violence-overview. Sri Lanka Presidential Election, The Commonwealth, January 8, 2015,http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/news-items/documents/SL%20PE%202015%20COG%20Report%20FINAL.pdf. Civil society groups call for honest candidates in Sri Lanka’s upcoming parliamentary election, Asia News, September 7, 2015, http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Civil-society-groups-call-for-honest-candidates-in-Sri-Lanka%E2%80%99s-upcoming-parliamentary-election-34727.html.