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Confusion over resumption of judicial executions in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka ( The Island/ANN) - President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have mentioned that the parliament would be consulted before end of this year regarding the resumption of judicial executions.

The European Union’s Mission in Sri Lanka praised Sri Lanka Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s announcement that Sri Lanka would vote in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty.

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Rajapakshe clarified Sri Lanka’s stand in parliament in the wake of both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declaring that the parliament would be consulted before end of this year regarding the resumption of judicial executions.

Sirisena told senior representatives of media organisations that he would consult members of parliament though he had the right to resume judicial executions.

Issuing a joint statement in view of the International Day against the Death Penalty on Saturday, the mission said, "Death penalty represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and violates the right to life universally affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".

Sri Lankans launched protests demanding an immediate end to moratorium on death penalty following the recent killing of a five-year-old child.

"The death penalty is a cruel and ineffective punishment. The European Union, Norway and Switzerland oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. Its worldwide abolition is a priority there is no evidence to prove that the death penalty deters crime," the statement said.

It further noted that that death penalty was irreversible and thus mistaken identity and wrongful convictions could also happen from death penalty.

"Many death sentences are issued after confessions obtained by torture. Innocent people die and a person more likely to be sentenced to death if they are poor or belong to an ethnic or religious minority," it said.

Last year, at least 22 countries around the world carried out executions and at least 2,466 people were sentenced to death.

Many of those convicted spend years on death row, waiting to see if a reprieve will be granted. Sri Lanka currently has more than 400 prisoners under the death penalty sentence.

"A hundred and one countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Make your voice heard for Sri Lanka to be part of the solution – not part of the problem", the EU statement added.

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