|Large scale abuse of state property
The General Election was marred by large-scale abuse of public properties of all categories, said the Programme for Protection of Public Property of the Institute of Human Rights (PPP/IHR) yesterday.
An interim report released by the organisation said that it observed misuse of vehicles belonging to ministries, departments, local authorities and public corporations, some of which were damaged in violence.
There was a pattern in the abuse of state vehicles, it added, pointing out most had no number plates or had false or garage numbers. "The political leadership and most of the police officers were fully aware of such abuses," the PPP/IHR said.
The organisation said its information was verified and that its work had been assisted by a team of private investigators.
"The PPP/IHR concludes that Peoples Alliance candidates have taken unlawful advantage by the gross violation of the laws relating to public properties as laid down in article 104(b) of the Constitution during the run-up to the election with disastrous consequences to the already dwindling national economy as well," the statement said. "This unfair and unlawful usage of state resources has in fact affected the conduct of free and fair elections."
The PPP/IHR said that all their reports since the announcement of elections about the abuse of state property were forwarded to the Commissioner of Elections, Commission on Bribery and Corruption and the Auditor General. "PPP/IHR reserves its comments on the action taken by these authorities for its final report," it said.
The report said:
"Having identified certain specific patterns of misuse of motor vehicles belonging to the state, PPP/IHR also addressed communications dated November 5, 2001, and November 27, 2001, to the Inspector General of Police requesting him to take immediate action to prevent these abuses, many of which are criminal in nature. However, no responses have been received from the IGP until now."
"PPP/IHR in this interim report highlights some of the most striking violations in relation to state resources, which have been verified up to 4.00 p.m. on December 5, 2001."
"Large scale misuse of vehicles belonging to ministries, departments, local authorities and public corporations was observed. Some of those vehicles were damaged due to accidents during campaign activities of candidates. To name the main miscreants who figured in relation to the abuses of state vehicles being released for their election work Sarath Amunugama, Maithripala Sirisena, Anuruddha Ratwatte, Mahinda Rajapakse, Amarasiri Dodangoda and Mangala Samaraweera. All are cabinet ministers from whom the public expect a better sense of responsibility. Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Cooperative Wholesale Establishment, Urban Development Authority, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Fisheries and National Lotteries Board are government institutions that have figured in large-scale release of vehicles for the Peoples Alliance election campaign."
"The PPP/IHR observed a pattern in relation to the abuse of state vehicles. There was widespread use of vehicles without number plates, with false numbers and with garage numbers while the political leadership and most of the police officers were fully aware of such abuses."
"A considerable number of state buildings were utilised for election activities of the Peoples Alliance. Among them were Visumpaya of the Urban Development Authority, Mahaweli Centre in Colombo 7 and several buildings of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC)."
"Public resources were used for PA propaganda activities including the printing and distribution of leaflets. Costly advertisements published in newspapers highlighting the achievements of the PA government had direct political support for PA. Military resources and its mechanism were used to distribute PA leaflets to army personnel engaged in the war in the North just before their postal voting."
"Services of public servants and employees of public corporations were utilised for the campaign of the PA. The most noted institutions in this respect are the CPC and Mahaweli Authority. A large number of persons were recruited pending elections on contract basis in the CPC and a considerable number of employees were released for PA election work on paid special leave approved by the chairman of the CPC. There is clear evidence that officers attached to the Presidential Security Division have been used by the Peoples Alliance for its election work. In fact, five of them were arrested with weapons including a grenade launcher and at present are in remand."
"A very grave situation has arisen when politicians holding authority use state resources for their election propaganda as if they have a right to do so ignoring the fact that such activities are illegal/unconstitutional. The damage caused to public properties and losses to the state are colossal."
"The seriousness of the violations and of the attitude of politicians are reflected in the absolute disregard for laws and regulations by cabinet ministers exercising enormous powers including the show of firearms unlawfully. It is sad to note that the president as head of state and cabinet has failed to maintain the decorum expected of her to prevent or minimise these abuses."
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