ANFREL submits election observations, recommendations ahead of Sri Lanka ICCPR review

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee election-related issues concerning human rights in Sri Lanka ahead of the country's ICCPR review on 8-9 March 2023.

ANFREL said the postponement of the local government elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns about its legitimacy given the country's successful conduct of the 2020 parliamentary elections amid the pandemic. At the time of submission, the elections were scheduled for 9 March 2023. It was again postponed due to the economic crisis.

Among the other observations noted in the submission are:

(1) The restrictions imposed by Section 69 of the Presidential Elections Act prohibiting any person from conduction, holding or participating in any processions during the period commencing on the day of the nomination and ending one week after the date in which the result of the poll is declared were excessive and unjustified.
(2) Section 74 of the Presidential Elections Act prohibiting posting of election paraphernalia in any public of private premises violates the right to freedom of expression.
(3) Lack of legal provision for supplementary voter registration.
(4) Censorship of state-owned TV station Independent Television Network (ITN) during the 2019 presidential election violates free expression.
(5) Limited postal voting and no alternative voting mechanism for Sri Lankans living abroad.

ANFREL recommended that the government take immediate steps to ensure that the Presidential Elections Act complies with international human rights standards, take proactive measures to protect freedom of the press, and implement alternative voting mechanism to ensure citizens living abroad have the right to vote.

The observations and recommendations were based on the findings of ANFREL's international election observation mission to the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary elections.

Read the full submission here: "ANFREL Submission to the 137th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee"



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