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Human Rights Commission urges President to abolish death penalty


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The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has in writing requested President Maithripala Sirisena to abolish the decision to enforce the capital punishment on drug traffickers and implement a powerful and long-term policy framework for the suppression of 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.

The Human Rights Commission Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama, sending the Commission’s opinion on the death penalty to the President in writing, said the death penalty is a punishment system that is being condemned by the world.

The Commission stressed that the death penalty seriously violates several human rights, including the right to life and freedom from cruel and inhumane punishment, and is an extreme and irreversible punishment and ineffective as a deterrent to crime.

The Commission said it admits that there are huge social problems caused by drug trafficking, especially youths who are addicted to drugs exerting undue pressure on the future generations of the country and therefore, the drug smugglers are engaged in a seriously anti-social process.

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

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

The Commission further said that it’s a well-known fact that the main factor for the spread of drug trafficking in this scale is the support from political connections and some sections of law enforcement.

“We see that quick and ineffective solutions, such as implementing the death penalty without addressing the reasons, will not be successful in the long-term to save our society from this drug menace,” the Commission wrote to the President.


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