By Rose Kenny
So far 12 Fundamental Rights petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court against the implementation of the death penalty.
These petitions had been filed by twelve petitioners including the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Attorney-at-Law Kavindu Hewa Geeganage. In its petition, the CPA stated that death by hanging is a cruel and inhumane form of punishment, unbecoming of a religious and civilised society. Though convicts have been sentenced to death, Sri Lanka has not implemented the death sentence over the past 43 years.
The CPA reiterates that the implementation of death penalty at this juncture is a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 11(Freedom from torture).
The Attorney General, Commissioner General of Prisons, the Minister of Justice as well as the Superintendent of the Welikada Prison have been named as respondents in these petitions.
The petitioners pointed out that the implementation of the death penalty is a violation of basic human rights, adding that the President’s decision to impose the death penalty only on those convicted of drug trafficking, is a violation of Article 12 (1) of the Constitution which ensures that all persons are equal before the law. They claim that there are many others convicted of murders and various other crimes on death row as well and that the President’s decision to implement the death sentence only on those convicted of drug offences is a clear discrimination against them.
Accordingly, the petitioners have requested the Supreme Court to issue an order preventing the implementation of the death penalty.