Message from the Executive Director
The year 2020 was dominated by the Covid 19 pandemic, the efforts to manage it and the repercussions
thereof. In Sri Lanka, it was effectively the first year of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency – won in
November 2019 with 6.9 million votes to be followed by the General Election in August 20202 which
returned a 2/3 majority of the seats in Parliament for the Rajapaksa regime.
Despite lockdown and self-isolation and other measures to combat the pandemic, CPA succeeded in the
main, in sticking to its work plans, successfully. Researchers worked from home and the administrative
and financial staff held the fort at office, when required.
Highlights of the year were the public interest litigation on the Presidential Pardon of Sgt Ratnayake,
convicted by all courts of the land for murder, including the slitting of the throat of a 5- year- old, the
regime’s insistence despite local and international expert opinion to the contrary, on the cremation of
those who had died of the virus – an act which struck at the heart of the religious practices of the Muslim
community in particular. There were a series of activities around the precise date of the election, the
inroads into parliamentary control over finances, policy briefs on the erosion of democratic governance
especially the appointment of Presidential Task Forces as the best representation of the alliance between
uniform and robe in government and governance, the photographic exhibition by youth of the Up-Country
Tamil community recording their lives and livelihoods and the monitoring of the 2020 General Election.
Of particular importance, given the serious ramifications of the Amendment, was CPA’s work on the
passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which did away with the checks and balances on the
exercise of executive power and authority ushered in limited form by the 19th Amendment. The 20th
Amendment, for one, does away with the impartiality and independence of key state institutions and
consolidates power and authority in the office of the Executive President. In this respect, it is both a
reversal and rejection of the norms of democratic governance and marks a clear shift away from a liberal
democratic dispensation. This is reinforced by the arguments for effective management of the pandemic,
and brings to the fore fears and concerns about creeping authoritarianism and the increased involvement
of the military in civilian affairs.
Despite the restrictions and lockdown, staff were able to fulfil our mandate with success. I wish to thank
them for their commitment. I hope and trust that it will extend beyond 2020 to 2021 our 25th anniversary and beyond.
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Read the Annual Report for 2020 in English here.