All those who hold paid offices in the Republic are required to ensure that the forthcoming local authority elections are held in conformity with the constitution and prevailing laws, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) announced today.
Dr Deepika Udugama, Chairperson of the HRC, in a media release also stated that her office “is vested with powers in terms of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act, No.21- of 1996 to take action against such officers who violate these conditions”.
The statement reveals that “the Commission will take steps to monitor the conduct of public officers in order to ensure that the forthcoming election is conducted freely and fairly.”
The full text of the release is given below:
Secretary to HE President,
Secretary to Hon. Prime Minister,
All Secretaries to Ministries,
All Chief Secretaries to Provincial Councils,
Directives pertaining to activities of public officers and officers of the Provincial Public Service in connection with the Local Authority Election 2018
According to Article 170 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, a “public officer” has been defined to mean a person who holds any paid office under the Republic. lt has been further clarified in section 19 of the Penal Code” According to Article 4 of the Sri Lankan Constitution all public officers are bound to respect and protect fundamental rights declared and recognized by the Constitution” Under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution all public officers have sworn to uphold the Constitution. According to Article 12 of the Constitution all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.
The right to vote has been declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. As such, when an election takes place all public officers in particular are bound to ensure that the election takes place in conformity with the Constitution and prevailing laws. Public officers vested with responsibility should conduct their official duties in compliance with such laws and act fairly and impartially.
lf public officers vested with legal responsibility misuse such powers and act beyond 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 action results in violation of fundamental rights. Accordingly, when public officers violate fundamental rights, in that manner, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is vested with powers in terms of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act, No.21- of 1996 to take action against such officers.
Therefore, the Commission will take steps to monitor the conduct of public officers in order to ensure that the forthcoming election is conducted freely and fairly.
Accordingly, please be good enough to take steps to inform the staff in institutions under your authority to act bearing in mind the following:
- To see that the law is implemented impartially and fairly
- Non-implementation of the law, abuse of authority including use of powers in a politically partial manner (e.9., permitting some political parties and groups to use public property and resources in violation of the law) result in violation of fundamental rights. ln addition to state responsibility, officers responsible for such action/inaction would be held personally responsible for violations
This notice is made in terms of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act, No.21of 1996.
Dr. Deepika Udagama
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka