A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA: Who should be nominated as party candidates for the forthcoming elections?

These are crucial days for the selection and submission of party candidates for the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections to be held on 17th August 2015. This is a moment at which the nation has the right to expect from leaders of all the political parties the exercise of utmost responsibility in making these selections. A simple criteria would suffice to sum up the nature of this responsibility. Anyone who may harm the nation should be excluded from the party nomination list; those candidates with only the highest potential for carrying out their obligation as the legislators of the country should be selected for such nominations.

Here are some of the subjects for such exclusion:

  • Anyone who has a criminal record or who is being subjected to a criminal inquiry by any of the law enforcement agencies should top the list of those to be excluded;
  • All those seeking nominations should be asked to make a frank disclosure on this matter and the assistance of the Inspector General of Police should be sought to ensure that no mistake will be made on this scope;
  • Particularly those candidates, whom the party leaders know to have engaged in any form of corruption, or those about whom there is a reasonable suspicion of involvement in any form of corruption, should be excluded;
  • Those candidates who have a record of abuse of public property of any sort at any time, and those that have created a reasonable suspicion of being engaged in any such abuse should be excluded;
  • Particular attention should be paid to those who have any form of record of being involved in sexual abuse and in the harassment of women or children, and they should naturally be excluded;
  • All those who have been Members of Parliament at any time, or Members of local government authorities, who have failed to observe the protocols and ethics expected of such members should also be excluded. In this regard, the party leaders should particularly pay attention to the fact that in the recent decades, parliamentary protocols have been so severely undermined to a point that the behaviour of many of the previous Members have earned the responses of contempt and ridicule from the citizens of the country;
  • All those persons who are unable to accept the principle of equality, which is the foundation of democracy, constitutional government, and the rule of law should be excluded;
  • Those who have a record of contributing to racial, religious, or other discriminatory practices should also be excluded;
  • Those who have a record or have exhibited tendencies to abuse power to undermine the rule of law and institutions of justice should be carefully eliminated from the nomination list.

And, the following are those worthy of inclusion:

  • The task of the elected members is to be legislators for the nation. It is only those that the party leaders could certify as persons with required knowledge, intellectual capacity, and integrity that should be among those who receive nominations.
  • Given the serious crisis of democracy that the nation has faced in the recent decades and the resultant collapse of public institutions, which are the foundations of a stable society, only those who could give leadership to build a strong democracy and to uphold public institutions should be among the nominated.
  • Particular attention should be paid to the crisis of the rule of law and the undermining of the institutions of justice namely, the policing service, the prosecutor’s office under the Attorney General’s Department, and the Judiciary. Party leaders should pay special attention to those who could lead the nation’s effort to build the rule of law and to strengthen the institutions of justice named above, and they should be included in the nominations.
  • Those who have a proven record for standing up against corruption and the abuse of power of every form and every kind should be included.
  • Those involved in the promotion of equality of gender, race, religion and every other area of social life should be selected.

Within this coming week, the nation will judge the leaders of political parties. If wrong persons are selected, the nation and the history will place the blame on the party leaderships.

In this crucial hour, when the possibilities for a great positive transformation can be created, the party leaderships should show their maturity and their capacity to hold high political office by exercising their judgement on the most crucial issue that will determine what is to come in the coming years. Thus, the party leaderships need to demonstrate far-sightedness in leading a crucial transformation, which is the aspiration of the people.

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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Read this Statement online