The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRSCL) has advised all local government authorities to obey the election laws saying that the Commission will be compelled to take legal action against violators.
In a communiqué to all the Local Government officials, the Chairman of the HRCSL, Justice Priyantha Perera said all Commissioners and Secretaries of Local Government authorities in their capacity as public officials have the responsibility to act according to the election laws.
"The 2015 Presidential election is due to take place on 8th January and propaganda activities in that connection are being conducted at present. As public officials it is your responsibility to act in conformity with election laws, the Constitution of Sri Lanka and other laws in force," the HRCSL said.
The Commission said in terms of international human rights standards and the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka the right of people to vote, to engage freely in political activities and the right to a free and fair election have been declared and recognized.
"Public officials are bound when performing their duties to act legally and fairly," it noted.
The HRCSL said that it has been reported to the Commission that when granting permission for meetings to be conducted in grounds and halls within the purview of local government authorities, some political party candidates have been denied the opportunity to use those places and permission refused on the basis that those places have been reserved for other activities not related to the election.
The rights body said even the Commissioner of Elections has reported this position to the Commission.
"The Commission is of the view that this is an obstacle to the conducting of a free and fair election. It is also a violation of Article 12 of the Sri Lanka constitution which officials are bound to comply with," the HRSCL informed the local government officials.
The HRCSL said, upon such complaints, it will be compelled to take steps against any officials for violation of fundamental rights and recommend compensation in such instances and also to recommend relevant authorities to take disciplinary action against such officers.
It further said that the Commission will also be compelled to declare publicly the identity of such authorities and the names of the officials conceded who violate fundamental rights.
Therefore, the Commission advised all the local government authorities to afford an equal opportunity to all the candidates and to act in conformity with the law.