SRI LANKA: GOVERNMENT MOVES TO REVIVE THE DEATH PENALTY
October 1, 2012: The Sri Lankan government is pushing to reinstate the death penalty, which has not been carried out for more than 30 years, although it remains formally on the legal books.
Citing a justice ministry source, the Daily Mirror reported on September 4 that the ministry would propose â€śto the cabinet the holding of a referendum for the re-activation of the death penalty for those convicted of serious crimes... as a deterrent to the increasing number of serious crimes in the country.â€ť
Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera told the media recently that immediate steps would be taken to facilitate executions. The ministry advertised for two vacancies for hangmen and interviewed 176 applicants for the posts.
A number of ministers have publicly campaigned for the death penalty. Child Development and Womenâ€™s Affairs Minister Tissa Karaliyadda told the Nation in July that the death penalty should be imposed for those convicted of rape, with no amnesty given. â€śI hope to present a cabinet memorandum requesting to amend the laws regarding the matter,â€ť the minister said.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the Daily News: â€śThe cabinet and members of parliament have reached a common belief that the death penalty should be implemented for child molesters and drug lords.â€ť
Even though the Penal Code and the 1978 Constitution provide for the death penalty, it has not been carried out since June 23, 1976.
In 2011, courts imposed 107 death sentences. By June this year, 818 prison inmates across the island had been condemned to death. (Sources: Sanjaya Jayasekera, 01/10/2012)