June 28, Colombo: The Commissioner General of Prisons has promised the Court of Appeal that no prisoner will be executed within a week from today.
Commissioner General of Prisons TMJW Tennakoon appeared before the Court of Appeal today in response to a notice issued by the Court when a petition filed by Malinda Seneviratne seeking an injunction order against the implementation of the death sentence was taken up for hearing.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, asked the Commissioner General of Prisons whether he was prepared to execute any convicted over the next four days.
Responding to this, the Commissioner General of Prisons informed the court that he had not been officially informed of such an execution. Responding to another inquiry by Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, the Commissioner General of Prisons pledged that no prisoner would be sentenced to death within the next seven days.
The bench comprising justices Yasantha Kodagoda and Arjuna Obeysekera noting the pledge given by the Prison officials decide to the hear the petition again on July 2.
Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle representing the Attorney General, said the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to conduct such a case against the President under Article 35 of the Constitution.
The Bench pointed out to the Deputy Solicitor General of the Government that this initial objection could be raised when the petition is considered.
The petition has been filed by a person named Malinda Seneviratne and the Commissioner General of Prisons, the Welikada Prison Superintendent and the Attorney General have been named as the respondents.
The petitioner states that the President has announced that he has signed the execution warrants for four persons and implementing the death sentence would have resulted in serious human rights violations.
He has therefore requested the Court of Appeal to issue a restraining order to the Superintendent of Prisons, Welikada Prison Superintendent preventing the executions.
In addition, two persons including Sudesh Nandimal De Silva, the convener of the Prisoners' Protection Movement, have filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court demanding that the implementation of the death penalty be restrained.
Nine officials including Attorney General representing the President, Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, Superintendents of Welikada Mahara and Kandy Prisons, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Dr. Deepika Udagama have been named as respondents in the petition.
Petitioners say that people who have been convicted of a number of charges, including drug trafficking and murder, are in the death row and President's decision to implement the death penalty only for persons convicted of drug trafficking violates the fundamental right to equal treatment guaranteed under the Constitution.