BY NIRANJALA ARIYAWANSHA
Over 50,000 Tamil youth from the Uva Province, employed in other parts of the country, have not been granted leave, to return to their hometowns or villages, to cast their vote at the 20 September provincial elections, ‘Saumaya Sarana Sansadaya’ (SSS) a Human Rights Organization alleged.
The SSS said most of these youth were employed in the Kandy, Jaffna, Colombo and Nuwara Eliya Districts. H.P. Anthonymuttu, President of the SSS, speaking to Ceylon Today, said nearly 50,000 registered voters work in shops and hotels in districts outside the province.
Anthonymuttu added, he would talk to the Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya today (17) over this issue.
“Workers in the public service are entitled to cast their vote by post. But, private sector workers are not given that right. I expect to request the Commissioner of Elections to provide that facility to private sector workers too,” Anthonymuttu said.
He pointed out that according to law, voters who have to travel long distances should be given half day or full day leave. But voters who work in Colombo or Jaffna will have to travel more than 10 hours to reach Badulla or Moneragala. Therefore, such voters deserve more than one day,” he said.
Anthonymuttu said, he would also bring the matter to the notice of Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission too, today (17).
When inquired, Deputy Commissioner of Elections, M.M. Mohamed said,who refuse to grant leave for their workers to cast their votes could be fined Rs 500, sentenced to a one month in jail or both.
“According to Sections, 1, 2 and 3 of Provincial Council Election Act of 1988, No. 2, all employers should grant leave, if the employees make written requests to go to relevant areas to cast their votes. But the employer has the right to decide the duration of leave, whether four hours or more than that,” he said.
Deputy Election Commissioner, Mohamed, requested the workers to complain to the police, if any employer refuses to grant leave for the purpose of casting votes.
Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of Peoples Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) told Ceylon Today that he too received complaints that some employees had not been given leave to cast their votes at Uva PC polls.