Jan 04, Colombo: The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has written to the President Maithripala Sirisena urging ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the abolition of the death penalty in Sri Lanka.
The HRCSL writing to the President recommended the abolition of the death penalty in Sri Lanka in keeping with "Sri Lanka's commitment to a more humane society consonant with human rights principles and values."
The Commission views that the abolition of the death penalty is imperative for Sri Lanka in recognition of the growing global recognition that the death penalty seriously violates several human rights including the right to life and freedom from cruel and inhuman punishment; is an extreme and irreversible punishment; and is ineffective as a deterrent to crime.
"Sri Lanka should demonstrate its commitment to the sanctity of life and fundamental human rights principles by joining the more than 100 nations in the world that have abolished the death penalty thus far. Another 60 countries do not carry out death sentences in practice," the Commission points out.
The HRCSL says that there is no empirical data, to show that death penalty has caused a reduction in crime or has a deterrent effect on crime.
Furthermore, the Commission says that in Sri Lanka in view of the serious flaws which exist in the criminal justice system, there is always the risk of innocent persons being executed for crimes which they did not commit.
The Commission says it is also of the view that the chances are that accused from underprivileged circumstances would be more prone to be subjected to the death penalty than those who have the financial means to hire competent counsel.
Considering all these reasons the Human Rights Commission recommended that Sri Lanka ratifies the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and abolishes the death penalty immediately.
The death penalty should be substituted with periods of imprisonment that befit the seriousness of each crime, the Commission recommends.
The HRCSL also recommended that the commutation of periods of imprisonment for such crimes also be done according to a national policy that takes into consideration the serious impact of such crime on society.
Copies of the letter have also been sent to the Prime Minister, the Speaker, Opposition Leader and the Minister of Justice.