of capital punishment: AI concerned
Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern on Tuesday over the Government’s decision to reactivate death penalty in Sri Lanka. A statement in the AI website said “Over the past decades Sri Lanka has been one of the Asian states that has set an example in the region by rejecting the death penalty, and this step will break with that tradition and with the international trend towards abolition of the death penalty.”
With the crime rate rising at a disturbing rate in the country, the Government decided to reactivate death penalty for rape, murder and narcotic crimes with effect from November 20.
“The organization recognizes that Sri Lanka has for some time been facing an increase in serious crime and the state must respond to this. However, the death penalty violates human rights and there is no proof that it is a more effective deterrent to crime than imprisonment,” AI said in its communiqué.
The last execution in Sri Lanka was carried out in June 1976. Since then all death sentences have been automatically commuted to life imprisonment.
Asked about the reactivation of capital punishment President Kumaratunga in nationally televised interview on Tuesday said “I have always been against the death penalty, I do not believe anyone has the right to take the life another even that of murderer”. Kumaratunga said a vast majority of the people in the country now want capital punishment reintroduced because of the rising crime rate and the nature of the crimes, in the belief that it would deter grave crime. A very diffident President said ‘I suppose we have to take this drastic step at least for six months although I am personally not for it’.
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