Sri Lanka’s HRC tells President to reconsider move on death penalty

The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission has written to President Maithripala Sirisena raising concerns over moves to implement the death penalty on convicts involved in drug trafficking.

Commission Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama said in the letter that the death penalty is a serious human rights violation.

Udagama said that the commission does not feel implementing the death penalty can address the issue of drug trafficking.

The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission also notes that implementing the death sentence will only contribute negatively to a society where the public have lost faith in the justice system.

The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission also reminded the President of a set of recommendations issued in 2016 which called for the abolition of the death penalty in Sri Lanka in keeping with Sri Lanka’s commitment to a more humane society consonant with human rights principles and values.

ln terms of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act No. 2L of 1996, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is required by Section 10 (c) and 10(d) of the said Act, among other things, to advise and assist the Government in formulating legislation and administrative directives and procedures in furtherance of the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and to make recommendations to the Government regarding measures which should be taken to ensure that national laws and administrative practices are in accordance with international human rights norms and standards.

President Maithripala Sirisena, last week, said that he would sign required orders to execute capital punishment for convicted drug traffickers who carry out large scale drug smuggling operations while in detention.

The President’s office quoted the President as saying that although there are certain opinions regarding capital punishment in a Buddhist society, if large number of criminal acts spread in such a society despite religious sermons, it will be necessary to take some timely actions to control crime.

Cabinet spokesman Dr Rajitha Senaratne had said the death penalty is to be initially implemented on 19 large scale drug offence convicts.

He said that cabinet approval had been obtained to implement the death penalty on repeat offenders related to large scale drug offences.

Initially 19 convicts have been identified and the President is to sign the documents to implement the death penalty on them. (Colombo Gazette)

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