Wednesday, 10 January 2007

No death penalty plans in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has no plans to use its death penalty laws, according to a report in the Daily Mirror e-Edition on 10 January.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa indicated in a wide-ranging meeting with newspaper editors on 9 January that he had no intention of implementing the death penalty in the near future.

President Rajapaksa said: "Ours is a country where there are protests even if we try to kill a dog. Implementing the death penalty, is therefore something that we have to do, after weighing the pros and cons, carefully."

Sri Lanka retains the death penalty on its statute books, although no executions have been carried out since June 1976. Successive presidents have automatically commuted all death sentences.

Amnesty International considers Sri Lanka to be an abolitionist country "in practice", a term it applies to countries which "have not executed anyone during the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions".

In March 1999 the government announced that death sentences would no longer be automatically commuted, although this policy was not implemented.

On 20 November 2004, the office of the then President announced that "the death penalty will be effective from today for rape, murder and narcotics dealings". The announcement followed the murder of a High Court judge and a policeman who was protecting him.

Amnesty International said in July 2005 that the Justice Ministry and the Attorney General had reportedly recommended the death penalty be carried out on the men convicted of a gruesome rape and murder.

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