October 6, 2015: Sri Lanka will not implement the death penalty temporarily as the country has decided to vote in favor of a UN resolution for moratorium on death penalty in 2015, Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha said in parliament.
The Minister noted that Sri Lanka had voted in favor of the UN resolutions calling for moratorium on death penalty in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In 2012, Sri Lanka had abstained from voting for the resolution.
However, Sri Lanka, to be in line with the current global trends, has decided to vote in favor of the UN resolution for moratorium on death penalty in 2015 when the vote is taken at the UN General Assembly.
He recalled that that Pope when addressing the inaugural session of the UN General Assembly on September 24 requested all countries to abolish death penalty.
Emphasizing that more than 100 countries have abolished the death penalty, the Minister told the parliament that especially in democratic countries punishments are aimed at correction and rehabilitation. The world opinion with regard to the capital punishment is in favor of not implementing it, he added.
There is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime, the Minister emphasized.
He said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in his address to the UNHRC on September 14 also stated that Sri Lanka would not implement the capital punishment.
The Justice Minister however, said an interactive dialogue should be held to find out the root causes of crimes and the Parliament should focus attention on strengthening the laws to prevent crimes.
President Maithripala Sirisena, while posing as a moral crusader, told a meeting in Galle on September 18 that he would implement capital punishment from next year if parliament approved. Though the penalty can be imposed via his executive powers, “I thought that the better option was debate in the parliament,” he said. “As a leader who respects moral principles, I will pay strict attention to the demand of the people to enforce the death penalty.”
Although Sri Lankan courts give death penalty in serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking, no executions have been carried out since 1976.
Following the recent abduction, sexual assault and murder of a five-year old Seya Sadewmi, Sri Lankans have demanded the death penalty for the perpetrators of heinous crimes.
Sources: colombopage.com, wsws.org, HOC, October 7, 2015
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