Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (File photo)
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (File photo)

Sri Lanka: Amnesty outraged as President signs executions of four drug offenders

ANI | Updated: Jun 27, 2019 04:05 IST

Colombo [Sri Lanka], Jun 27 (ANI): The Amnesty International has expressed shock after Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena announced death warrants for four drug offenders on Wednesday who will "very soon" become the first people to be executed in decades on the island nation.
Sirisena said that he has signed the documents for execution of four big-time drug operators currently convicted and awaiting death sentence, Colombo Page reported. However, no names were revealed nor any details were divulged about any scheduled executions or information on the cases except that they would take place "very soon".
"We are outraged that the President has signed the first execution warrants issued by Sri Lanka in 43 years. In one stroke, he will undo all the country's progress in putting a stop to the use of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International, was quoted as saying.
"At a time when other countries have come to the realisation that their drug control policies are in need of reform, and are taking steps to reduce the use of the death penalty, Sri Lanka is bucking the trend."
"This will be devastating to the country's international reputation and we hope that President Sirisena will reconsider his decision," he added.
The London-based human rights organisation has said that the lack of transparency makes it impossible to ascertain whether these prisoners have exhausted clemency appeals, or if all safeguards were followed in their conviction or sentencing. There is also no confirmation that the four prisoners, or their families, have been alerted to their imminent execution.
However, Sirisena has said that the convicts and their kin are yet to be informed about their executions and that the convicts could appeal for clemency.
Amnesty said it had learned that there are 13 prisoners who are at grave risk of imminent execution earlier this week.
It has also repeatedly called on Sirisena to halt his plans to resume executions, making clear that the death penalty does not have a unique deterrent effect on crime.
Executions for drug-related offences are unlawful. They do not meet the threshold for "most serious crimes" - such as intentional killing - to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international human rights law, the organisation stressed.
Sri Lanka is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which sets the abolition of the death penalty as the goal to be achieved by countries that still retain this punishment. (ANI)