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Commission urges President to abolish death penalty

Graphic: Man sits alone in a prison cell

The death penalty violates fundamental rights, is an irreversible punishment and is ineffective as a deterrent against punishment, the HRCSL said.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has requested President Maithripala Sirisena to overturn the decision to enforce capital punishment on drug traffickers and instead implement powerful, long-term policies to suppress serious crime, including drug trafficking.

Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers earlier this week decided to implement the death sentence on convicted drug traffickers on death row and the President said he will approve the measure.

Writing to the President, HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama said the death penalty violates a number of fundamental human rights, is an extreme and irreversible punishment, and is ineffective as a deterrent against crime.

In her letter, Dr Udagama acknowledged the serious social problems caused by drug trafficking.

"However, it is the Commission's view that it can be successfully addressed not by the implementation of vindictive punishments such as the death penalty but by capturing the drug traffickers efficiently and properly, and by enforcing serious punishments appropriate to their crimes," she said.

If convicted drug traffickers in jail engage with the outside world using new technology to carry out the drug trade, the correct solution should be to strengthen the security arrangements in the prison and monitor the prison officers involved in these activities and effectively enforce law against them, Dr Udagama wrote.

She added that a key factor in the spread of drug trafficking on this scale was the support provided by political connections and some sections of the law enforcement system.

"We see that that quick and ineffective solutions, such as implementing the death penalty, without addressing the reasons will not be successful in long term to save our society from this drug menace," Dr Udagama said.

The full letter to the President is available on the Commission's website.

Date: 14 July 2018

Source: Colombo Page

Image credits

  1. Man sits alone in a prison cell - APF