Over 170 health guideline violations during campaigns: PAFFREL

Tuesday, 21 July 2020 00:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Over 1,200 violations since 14 June
  • 172 violations of health guidelines during campaigning
  • Focus will be on health guideline violation in coming weeks

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) has recorded over 170 health guideline violations at campaigns for the Parliamentary General Elections to be held on 5 August.

According to a report by PAFFREL, the total number of violations reported between 14 June and 20 July is 1,224. Of these, 924 are confirmed incidents. The report also gives a breakdown of incidents and 172 incidents, including 29 unconfirmed incidents, are violations of medical rules during campaigns. Two confirmed violations of medical rules at polling stations are also recorded.

Speaking to the Daily FT, PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchie stated that their biggest concern in the next two weeks is the adherence of COVID-19 health guidelines.

“Even though the health guidelines have been gazetted, we do not see people adhering to them. They wear the mask but do not practice social distancing. There are also doubts about hand washing facilities provided,” he said.

Hettiarachchie added that PAFFREL will be focusing on health guidelines in the coming weeks as they can be considered more important than other election regulations given the spread of COVID-19.

“If national leaders and party leaders are not adhering to these guidelines, it is a huge issue. If candidates are not considering the safety of their supporters, there is a question of if they are suitable to be representatives of the people,” he commented.

In addition to violations of health guidelines during campaigning, PAFFREL also looks at acts of violence, abuse of State power, resources and employees, and other violations and the report shows a total 45 acts of violence, including 14 incidents of assault, 13 incidents of threats and intimidation, seven incidents of grievous assault, and six attacks on political party or candidate offices.

There are also 28 confirmed and 48 unconfirmed incidents of State power, resources and employees being abused, of which 17 are the misuse of State property, 17 are incidents of Government aid being provided for political gain, and 15 are the use of State officials and security sources for election campaign purposes.

Carrying out illegal election propaganda has the most number of incidents reported so far, with 618 confirmed incidents and 115 unconfirmed incidents. PAFFREL also records 119 incidents of incentives being given for political gains.