Message from the Executive Director
The year was marked by two key events – one, the terrible tragedy of the Easter Sunday carnage and the other, the convincing victory of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Presidential Election at the end of the year. National security and strong and decisive leadership dominated the agenda along with the assertion of the identity of the majority community. The belief of CPA that Sri Lanka is a country made up of many peoples and whose governance is founded on the principle of Unity in Diversity, is therefore facing challenge.
The lead up to this and the repercussions from these events ensured that CPA remained focused on
the key issue of rights and freedoms and their protection if not strengthening, in inhospitable circumstances. CPA therefore pursued high profile Public Interest Litigation, produced policy briefs and edited volumes on national security, constitutional reform and other contemporary rights issues as well as pioneered new areas of research through the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence’s (CMEV) focus on campaign finance in the Presidential Election. Our civic media sites grew as platforms for the counter –narrative and for issues under-reported or ignored by the mainstream media and our Outreach Unit continued its capacity building of marginalized communities through use of the Right to Information (RTI) tool.
The political and electoral calendar makes it difficult to plan a full programme of activities. However, we fully expect the trend of creeping authoritarianism and the military mindset to continue through new legislative controls on non-governmental organizations, further Presidential Task Forces and through constitutional reform. CPA will continue to work with all tiers of government, where and whenever possible to protect and enhance liberal democracy in Sri Lanka.
We started the year with 52 members of staff and ended with 47. On behalf of the organisation I wish to thank Ms. Jean Samuel who left the Board and welcome Ms. Minoli de Soysa who replaced her.
My thanks to the members of the Board for their solidarity and support and likewise, to our funders. Finally, a big thank you to all the staff, for their unstinting commitment and resilience.
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Full report available at CPA Annual Report 2019