EU opposes Sirisena’s death penalty decision

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The European Union (EU) and diplomatic missions of Canada and Norway in Sri Lanka on Monday “strongly and unequivocally” opposed President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to implement the death penalty in the country.

In a letter to Sirisena, the EU delegation in Colombo and the diplomatic missions of Canada and Norway said that it was a worrying development to implement the death penalty after a moratorium of more than 40 years.

These missions said in their letter that they strongly and unequivocally oppose capital punishment in all circumstances and in all cases.

“The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity, does not have any proven deterrent effect, and allows judicial errors to become fatal and irreversible,” the letter said.

Sirisena last week said he would sign death warrants on drug convicts who have been condemned for life but spend life jail terms instead. He said he had been appalled by drug convicts carrying out drug business from jail.

Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission had also expressed opposition to the move. It was said that some 18 drug convicts are to be hanged. They have been identified as carrying out drug trafficking from their prison cells.

Sri Lanka has not executed a prisoner since 1976. Criminals are regularly given death sentences for murder, rape and drug-related crimes but their punishments have been commuted to life.

Currently, there are over 1200 prisoners condemned for life for all crimes.

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