Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) was established in April 2008 with an aim to conduct a sustained campaign to monitor and observe elections and to create a broad forum to address issues related to the failure of democratic norms in Sri Lanka. Today CaFFE is a people’s organization, which encompasses members of civil society, lobby community and religious groups, trade unions, members of political parties and opinion makers.
Though citizen’s groups and NGOs were monitoring elections before, CaFFE commenced its operations and able to emerge a leading election monitor in a short time through organization and its desire to challenge by ground realities.
Our election monitors consist of individuals who are from all three communities and from various religious groups. CaFFE was created to replace independent organizations which have now lost their impartiality and losing their credibility being biased.
CaFFE is an organization with multi-partiality as its core foundation and with a view to up hold Democratic values in society. CaFFE has opened district coordination centers at each district where elections are held and trains election observers and monitors volunteers to serve during elections periods from within election districts as well as from outside the province that the elections are being held within.
CaFFE's election information gathering mechanism extends to include representatives of different political parties and countrywide representatives from all parts of Sri Lanka who go into election areas. Our members come from political party headquarters, district and electoral offices, thus making us an in-depth and well embedded local level network of election monitors and observers.
The primary aim of CaFFE's election monitoring agenda is to identify incidents involving violation of electoral law and help determine a conducive atmosphere for citizens to cast their vote during an election in a free and fair manner. It is the duty of CaFFE and our election observers to impartially report on these incidents without casting a prejudicial opinion to any party or group that violates election laws and disrupts law and order. Importantly, not reporting 'baseless rumors' is one of the main principles of CaFFE monitoring therefore we always double check and use multiple sources to determine the authenticity of any election violation that is reported to us. We ensure and monitor the atmosphere the election is conducted and we give equal importance to Pre-election monitoring and 'on the day' of the election.
CaFFE believes that in order to get an idea and the conditions under which elections are held it is equally important to get an understanding of a pre-election atmosphere that exists in any election area. CaFFE does this and produce Pre-elections reports and released to the public via the media and on request when contacted by citizens. The reason is that we wish to be accessible to any citizen who wishes to know the existing environment before an election. The theoretical reason behind this is CaFFE believes that there are strong connections between incidents that take place during an pre-election period and the prevailing atmosphere that is created through these incidents in correlation to incidents that happen on the election day and the voting behavior of the electorate on the Election Day.
CaFFE has been observing and monitoring all the Elections since 9th April 2008.
Community organizations and activist’s network have assisted in our work in the pre- election period and on the day of elections and after.
The details of the work are well documented and can find in the CaFFE’s official web site (www.caffesrilanka.org).
Since April 2008 we have constantly evolved and expanded our operations. In the hope of facilitating better operations during elections we have encouraged the establishment of centers at various districts and have created a pool of trained observers and monitors.
Our members today represent all the three communities (eg. Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim as well as individuals from professional backgrounds and religious affiliations.)
Presently the CaFFE’s information gathering process is activated in collaboration with political parties, representatives from all over Sri Lanka who participated in our activities, district level election department officers and political party leadership, assuring the sustainability and impartiality of our actions.
CaFFE is one of the main sources of election information for the media. CaFFE’s ability to back their claims with photographic evidence is well recognized by all
CaFFE has the best information dissemination center of all the election monitoring bodies in the country, providing digital images, voice, videos, data, facts and figures
CaFFE and its sister organization Center for Human Rights – Sri Lanka (CHR) has the largest network of associates in the northern and eastern provinces. The organization has field offices, an IDP information center (Menik Farm), and regional offices in the both provinces. As an organization working for the advancement of human rights and the role it played in monitoring Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) activities , the organization was able to win hearts and minds of the common people across communities.
During the last provincial council elections in central and north western provinces CaFFE carried out the 'Say NO to Violence' campaign, making a common platform for all the political parties/candidates who oppose violence. CaFFE will re-introduce "Say NO to Violence' campaign in each district during the coming election.
For the first time, CaFFE will train the polling agents and the counting agents on legal issues, counting procedures and the other relevant aspects. This must be introduced as there will be over 1500 counting centers in the election.
CaFFE was the only election monitoring organization that observed and reported the counting process in last presidential and parliamentary elections. It is also the only organization monitored the counting during the last local elections.
Through this process, CaFFE network has become a prominent stakeholder in Sri Lanka’s campaign for democracy.
Until 2012 all finances and legal requirements are covered by SNAP and organization was regestered independently under the name CaFFE in 2012.