South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, vehemently condemns the measures taken by the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to execute four prisoners. Even though the details of the four inmates awaiting execution have not been revealed, the President has confirmed on 25 June 2019 of signing the death warrants.
SAHR, through several statements and open letters to the President have called to abolish the death penalty over the past months. The Government of Sri Lanka, in August 2017, assured to the United Nations at the Universal Period Review that “Sri Lanka has abolished the practice of execution upon judicial order since 1976, and voted in favour of the periodic UN General Assembly Resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty”. We believe that the President’s decision violates this assurance as well as international law and standards.
SAHR firmly believes that the death penalty violates the right to life and right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, both guaranteed under the constitution of Sri Lanka. Further, the human rights commission of Sri Lanka in its letter to the President stated that “it is the view of the Commission that in view of the serious flaws which exist in the criminal justice system coupled with Sri Lanka, unlike other countries, not having a process permitting the reopening of a criminal case after exhaustion of the appeals procedures, there is a serious risk of a miscarriage of justice”.
Since June 1976 the death penalty has not been executed even though it is not legally abolished and therefore, we request to continue to desist from the use of capital punishment. We request the President to immediately halt the decision to implement the death penalty and fulfil the promised human rights obligations and commitments.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,