Announcing its preliminary findings, the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG), has noted that the private media in Sri Lanka was largely unregulated in the days leading up to the presidential polls.
“We note that for this election, the Election Commission was empowered to regulate public media through a set of media guidelines. However, it appeared that private media was largely unregulated,” the Group has stated.
The Commonwealth Observers have recommended that ahead of the next election, both private and public media are independently regulated through a legal framework.
According to the Group, another issue of concern was the use and promotion of hate speech through private media, as well as on social media platforms to conduct campaigns including well after the 48 hours deadline.
The COG has also noted the need for mechanisms to regulate campaign finance in order to ensure transparency, accountability and an even playing field.
“We further noted ethnic and religious tensions that characterized aspects of the pre-election environment. We observed that some groups experienced fear and intimidation,” the Group has stated.
The group has also called on all citizens and political and community leaders to prioritise unity and demonstrate the values of respect and tolerance in political life.