LG polls HRCSL to monitor public officials and cops Violations to be dealt with sternly

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By 2018-01-23

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) announced that they would be taking steps to monitor the conduct of public officials and the compliance of Police officers with regard to the relevant guidelines, with the view to ensuring a free and fair Local Government (LG) election.

HRCSL further stated that they would be compelled to inquire into any complaints of violations resulting from either action or inaction, as these guidelines are to be observed by all Police Officers during the run-up to, on the day of, and the period immediately after the election.

In a letter signed by the Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Deepika Udagama, addressed to the President, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretaries to Ministries and Chief Secretaries to Provincial Councils, on directives pertaining to activities of public officers and officers of the Provincial Public Service in connection with the Local Authority Election 2018, it is noted that if public officers vested with legal responsibility misuse such powers and act beyond the legal boundaries, or fail to perform duties which they are duty bound to perform or delay the performance of their duties without justifiable reason, such actions would result in the violation of fundamental rights.

"To see that the law is implemented impartially and fairly is essential. The non-implementation of the law and the abuse of authority including the use of powers in a politically partial manner by, for example, permitting certain political parties and groups to use public properties and resources would result in the violation of fundamental rights. In addition to the State responsibility, officers responsible for such action/inaction would be held personally responsible for the violations."

In the case of the guidelines issued to Police officers for observance, complaints regarding pre-election, election day and post-election violence should be accepted and investigated and the Police will be held liable for the violation of fundamental rights in regard to inaction or omission relating to entertaining such complaints while investigations regarding complaints should be conducted in a strictly impartial manner with inaction due to political influences or any other unacceptable reason amounting to a breach of the right to equality and the equal protection of the law.

Elsewhere, the law which relates to election propaganda shall be applied equally as any unequal treatment or discrimination, especially regarding political opinion, will be an express violation of the same.

The issuing of permits to use loudspeakers for election meetings shall be in accordance with the law while the non-fulfilment of this obligation will also result in the violation of the same, while the issuing of permits for processions shall be done in conformity with the freedom of speech, assembly, association, occupation and movement. If any party or group is given privileged treatment in the display of leaflets, posters, and photographs of the candidates, symbols, flags and banners, it would constitute a violation.

Police have also been called on, to strictly enforce the law with regard to persons who violate the right of others to vote. Police officers are to provide adequate security to polling centres and other related places.

It is the duty of Police officers to enforce the law strictly against all persons who misuse or cause damage to public property such as Government vehicles, buildings and premises.

Also, Police are prohibited from participating in the instigation of any type of violence against persons or property, including subjecting persons to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, on their own initiative or at the behest of any other party.

The Commission has established an Election Complaints Desk to receive election related complaints with a particular emphasis on the violation of the rights of women candidates.

The 24-hour hotlines are: 0773088135 and 0773762112, fax - 0112505574 and email address - [email protected]

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