South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Mr. Dayanada Dissanayaka,
Commissioner of Elections,
Elections Secretariat,
P.O. Box 2,
Dear Sir
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is the local chapter of Transparency International, a
non-governmental organization. We are engaged in work related to anti corruption and good
governance in Sri Lanka. TISL is also involved in election monitoring through its Program for
Protection of Public Resources (PPPR). While appreciating the effort put in by you and your
department, we would like to highlight the following concerns with respect to the voting
method and election process.
Our discussions with various stake holders that the general voter awareness of the Presidential
Election particularly in relation to the voting methodology and the election process involved in
selecting the winning candidate is very low; Particularly when counting the second preferential
volte in case if it’s applicable. We have been informed by other civil society groups that this lack
of awareness spreads across all levels of society including even educated professionals in urban
In view of the above, we believe that there is a greater need to engage in “Effective Voter
Awareness Enhancement Initiative” in the form of a media campaign in all three languages,
including specifically;
1. Has to cast the vote at the Presidential Election including the possible preferential votes.
2. The methodology to be applicable in declaring the elected candidate based on the
counting of the first preference and other preferences, where applicable.
3. Documents accepted as proof of Identity for Voting.
4. Special arrangements made for IDP’s in camps, re-settled in their former areas of
residence, in temporary residences with friends and relatives, to exercise their voting
5. Security measures available on the day of the election to assure a free and fair election.
6. Arrangements made by the Commissioner of Elections and the Police to assure that a
free and fair election will be conducted free of election related violence (pre/on polling
day/post election )and potential violations of the law and fundamental rights of voters
We assure our cooperation in this regard
Thanking You
For Transparency International Sri Lanka
J.C Weliamuna
Executive Director

The declaration below was adopted after the end of the Indo-Pak Peace Conference held in New Delhi from 10-12 January 2010 in which  South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) was one of the co-organizers.


India Pakistan Conference – A Road map towards Peace

India International Centre, New Delhi

10th – 12th January, 2010

The discussions in the India-Pakistan Conference: A Road map towards Peace over the last three days have shown how far the public sentiment in both India and Pakistan is inclined towards peace. The participating organizations from both sides of the border represent a vast constituency which is ready to work towards building enduring and sustainable peace between the two countries.

We believe there is a real window of opportunity today, which must not be wasted. These ideas are presented here in a sincere effort to develop friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

This conference is not a stand alone event. The participants resolve to work in groups on each of the areas that were identified in the sessions, to further the gains of the conference.

Road Map towards Peace:

1) Peace Dialogue.

a. Resumption of dialogue and the composite peace process. Once resumed, dialogue should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible, whatever the twists and turns in the relations between the two countries may be.

b. Consider a suitable location near the border where the talks will be held at regular intervals.

c. The contents and outcomes of the talks should be as transparent as possible, so that there is accountability to the people of both countries.

d. There should be coordination amongst the various ministries of the government of India involved and concerned with India- Pakistan relations and policy.

e. There must be no militarist/chauvinist statements from political or military leadership of the two countries.

f. Confidence Building Measures: Items long awaiting solution like Siachin, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage need to be settled immediately.

g. Demilitarize the border between India and Pakistan.

2) Terrorism.

a. Both countries should work together to counter terrorism and fundamentalism which are common challenges. .

b. Set up joint mechanisms, and share intelligence and related information within the framework of the 1987 SAARC convention on combating terrorism.

3) Economic Cooperation:

a. Free flow of goods and commodities, encouragement of joint business initiatives.

b. India must unilaterally open the borders to further facilitate border trade.

c. Build cooperation on the existing women led initiatives.

d. India must take initiative to build the trade between the two countries and with the rest of South Asia.

e. Ease customs and tariff procedures, and issuing of business visas.

f. Free movement for migrant workers.

g. Try to formulate a joint economic partnership agreement between India and Pakistan.

h. Set up more branches of more Indian and Pakistani banks and financial institutions in each others’ territories.

i. Collaborative approaches on issues relating to WTO and international trade.

4) Kashmir.

a. Since this is a core issue there must a genuine and urgent effort to find solutions.

b. Firstly both India and Pakistan must jointly agree to de-militarize Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian government should repeal the Armed forces Special Powers Act.

c. Withdrawal of troops and punishment of those guilty of crimes against people.

d. Strengthening of democratic institutions and establish an independent tribunal to ensure Article 370 for Kashmir. Reinstate Article 370 in its original form as a step towards building confidence and goodwill.

e. Allow Kashmiris to live and work in Pakistan if they wish.

f. Protect the interests of minorities in J&K. Take the opinions and aspirations of people in all areas in J&K when working out solutions.

5) Media, Information and Culture

a. There has to be a self censorship stop hate speech, war mongering in the media

b. The flow of information, software, know-how, knowledge should be opened up.

c. Import of books, periodicals, newspapers should be permitted without impediment.

d. Meeting of senior editors should be held, in effort to lead media away from jingoism.

e. Media houses should be allowed to station journalists in each others capitals without difficulty

f. Cultural exchange must be freely allowed and encouraged between the two countries.

g. Education: Revision of curricula in both countries to encourage friendship, not hate.

6) Visa regime.

a. Visa free South Asia: The possibility of a visa free regime has been often discussed but not operationalised. Stringent scrutiny can be done without undue restrictiveness.

b. Opening of consulates in all the major cities of both the countries.

c. Special facilities for senior citizens and children below 12 years.

d. Free exchange of scholars, students and technical experts.

7) Nuclear disarmament: Roll back on the nuclear program in both countries to establish a nuclear free South Asia and cooperate jointly towards global disarmament.

8 ) National and ethnic question.

a. Since this is an important and extremely sensitive question in South Asia, attempts to be made in both countries to find solutions to conflicts around these questions, involving all parties in the dispute.

b. Facilitate the coming together of academia and civil society to build a better understanding and possible consensus on this issue.

c. Create space for national and other minorities in all parts of India and Pakistan.

9) Water resources.

a. Joint management of water resources.

b. Revisit the Indus Water Treaty in the light of new factors like climate change and its implications based on the principles of equitable sharing rather than division of waters.

c. Ways need to be explored to optimize use and distribution of waters and energy for benefit of the people of both countries.

10) Military and Defense

a. Reduce military spending by at least 10% per year, and divert the savings to the social and development sector

b. In order to reduce tensions, it is important that military commanders of both countries meet and interact, as part of the peace dialogue.

c. Joint patrol of borders.

d. Change the beating retreat ceremony at the Wagah border to reflect peace, not conflict.

11) Climate Change:

a. Start common initiatives to adapt to the common challenges of climate change.

b. Cooperation in international negotiations and at SAARC.

c. Joint approaches towards transfer of technology on renewable energy, adaptation and mitigation. India should assist Pakistan to develop a low carbon strategy and facilitate the transfer of regenerative technologies to Pakistan

d. Conduct joint research on ecological and climate related issues

12) Siachen Glacier must become a zone of peace: it should be evacuated of army presence altogether. This is important for both for reasons of environmental and also for the sake of soldiers.

13) SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation): Work together to strengthen regional cooperation based on the SAARC charter and its conventions.

14) Human Rights:

a. Release of all fisherfolk currently detained in Indian and Pakistani jails. Stop arresting fisherfolk who stray into the other country’s territorial waters.

b. Release of all political prisoners who have served their term. Review of cases to see that innocents who have strayed over the land border are released.

c. See that the lives and properties of human rights defenders are protected. Punish those guilty of torture, rape, plunder in the name of security, counter terror, war.

15) Joint India Pakistan committees must be set up on :

a. Kashmir

b. Hate speech

c. Human rights

d. Distribution of water resources

e. Prisoners

f. Military expenditure

g. CBMs


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