SC further extends Interim Order preventing death penalty | Daily News


 

SC further extends Interim Order preventing death penalty

The Supreme Court yesterday further extended its Interim Order preventing the Commissioner General of Prisons and Welikada Prison Superintendent from executing any prisoner consequent to a death warrant signed by former President Maithripala Sirisena, until March 20.

A Supreme Court three-judge-bench headed by Justice Vijith Malalgoda made this order pursuant to twelve Fundamental Rights petitions filed including Attorney-at-Law Kavindu Hewa Geeganage.

Meanwhile,the Supreme Court yesterday directed the petitioners to file amended petitions since several respondents in the petitions have to be replaced with added respondents. Accordingly, these petitions will be taken up again for support on March 17.

 On a previous occasion, President’s Counsel M.A.Sumanthiran appearing for the petitioner Geeganage stated there is no disclosed criteria for the execution of convicts served with a death penalty and such lack of guidelines would violate Article 12(1) of the Constitution. He further stated that selection of specific individuals is contrary to the constitution and international norms.

However, the Attorney General maintained that the decision to impose the death penalty was compliant with existing laws in the country and Constitutional provisions are in place to implement it.

The Attorney General further maintained that the decision to implement the death penalty would not violate Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Twelve Fundamental Rights petitions have been filed so far in the Supreme Court seeking an Interim Order directing the Commissioner General of Prisons and Welikada Prison Superintendent from executing any prisoner consequent to a death warrant signed by the former President.

Twelve petitions had been filed naming the Attorney General,the Justice Minister, the Commissioner General of Prisons, Welikada Prison Superintendent and several others as respondents.

In its petition, the CPA stated that it has long been recognised that hanging by death is a cruel and inhuman form of punishment, not befitting a multi religious and civilised society. Though convicts have been sentenced to death, the long recognised practice in Sri Lanka for over 43 years has been that they were not executed.

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) and under Article 12(1)[ All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection before the law] of the Constitution. Meanwhile, filing another petition, Attorney-at-Law Kavindu Hewa Geeganage stated that selection of specific individuals to impose the death penalty is arbitrary, unreasonable, and made on no identifiable criteria, and without any justifications for the same.

He argued that purported selection appears to have been carried out contrary to the Law and the Constitution and in particular the proviso to Article 34(1) of the Constitution. The petitioner further stated that purported selection of specific individuals are contrary to international norms and do not meet the relevant threshold for ‘most serious crimes’; The Petitioner states that the State, in taking steps to carry out such executions in haste has caused rise to a situation of imminent infringement of the condemned prisoners’ rights under Article 11, 12(1), 13(4), 13(6) and 17 of the Constitution.


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