Commission concerned by pardon to military officer
Graphic: Dr Deepika Udagama, HRCSL Chairperson
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has expressed “deep concern” over the Presidential pardon granted to former Army Corporal Sunil Ratnayake.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has expressed its "deep concern" over the Presidential pardon granted to former Army Corporal Sunil Ratnayake, who was convicted of killing eight civilians, including three children.
The conviction was subsequently upheld by the unanimous judgment of a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on 24 April 2019.
In a letter to President Rajapaksa, Commission Chairperson Dr Deepika Udagama said that pardoning a "person convicted of such a heinous offence and whose conviction was upheld unanimously by the Supreme Court sends a negative message that reinforces allegations of impunity and lack of justice for victims of violations in Sri Lanka".
"Mr. Ratnayaka was sentenced to death per the law of the country which makes that sentence mandatory for murder. Our Commission has been resolute in its opposition to the death penalty and has repeatedly called for its abolition and replacement with suitable alternate punishment," Dr Udagama said in the letter.
"Our expression of concern about the pardon in this instance does not in any manner amount to an acceptance of the death penalty," Dr Udagama stressed.
"What we wish to emphasise is that a person convicted of such an offence should undergo commensurate punishment. We would have been in agreement if Your Excellency had commuted the death sentence to long term imprisonment given the serious nature of the offence."
Date: 3 April 2020
- Dr Deepika Udagama, HRCSL Chairperson - Penn State School of International Affairs; Flickr CC