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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2370

Amnesty International Lambaste Sri Lankan Presidents Threat On Capital Punishment

Colombo, 12 July, (Asiantribune.com):

Amnesty International has shown stiff opposition to the statement made by the Sri Lankan President that, he would sign required orders to execute capital punishment for convicted drug traffickers, who carried out large-scale drug smuggling operations, while in detention.

President Maithripala Srisena made this statement at the opening of the ‘Schools to Boost Fight Against Drugs’ campaign at Gatambe Grounds in Kandy yesterday (July 11).

The programme has been organized by the National Drugs Eradication Campaign and the Presidential Task Force Against Drugs with the intention of saving school children from the menace of drugs.

Amnesty International pointed out that Sri Lanka must pull back from any plans to implement the death penalty and preserve its longstanding positive record on shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment, Amnesty International said yesterday.

The human rights watchdog alleged President Maithripala Srisena was reportedly pressing ahead with plans to execute 19 death row prisoners convicted of drug-related offences.

“By resuming executions after more than 40 years, Sri Lanka will do immense damage to its reputation. The government must immediately halt plans to carry out any executions, commute all death sentences, and establish an official moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty as a first step towards its full abolition,” Amnesty International South Asian Deputy Director Dinushika Dissanayake said.

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

“Although there are deferent opinions regarding capital punishment in a Buddhist society, if a 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,” he said.

“Sri Lanka has been a leader in the region, with an enviable record of shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment at a time when many other countries persisted with it. Now, when most of the world has turned its back on the death penalty, it risks heading in the wrong direction and joining a shrinking minority of states that persist with this horrific practice.”

“Amnesty International is absolutely opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the crime or the method of execution.”

“Executing people for drug-related crimes is a violation of international law – which says the death penalty can only be imposed in countries that are yet to abolish it for the “most serious crimes meaning intentional killing– and would brazenly defy Sri Lanka's international commitments, including its repeated votes in favour of a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty at the UN General Assembly, including most recently in 2016.”

“Sri Lanka carried out its last execution in 1976.There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect against crime. Executions are never the solution and, for drug-related offences, constitute a violation of international law. Sri Lanka should choose a more humane and just path,” Mr. Dissanayake said.

As of today, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In the Asia-Pacific region, 19 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further seven are abolitionist in practice.

In 2017, as recorded by Amnesty International, executions were carried out in an isolated minority of countries (23), and only 11 of these – or 6% of the world's total –carried out executions every year in the past five years.

- Asian Tribune –
Amnesty International South Asian Deputy Director Dinushika Dissanayake


 Dinushika Dissanayake -  South Asian Deputy Director, Amnesty International
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