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Committee: United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Topic: Capital punishment and implementing the protection for facing death
penalty
Country: Sri Lanka

The death penalty has a long history in Sri Lanka. After independence, Prime Minister S. W.
R. D. Bandaranaike abolished capital punishment in 1956. However, it was quickly
reintroduced after his assassination in 1959. With the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War the
country saw a sharp rise in child abuse, rape, murder and drug trafficking, prompting some
lawyers and politicians to call for the reinstatement of the death penalty. This seems to have
convinced much that stronger punishment is needed as a deterrent to crime. The government
decided to reinstate capital punishment in 2004 for cases of rape, drug trafficking and murder
after the assassination of High Court judge Sarath Ambepitiya. Capital punishment is a legal
penalty in Sri Lanka. However, there have been no executions since 23 June 1976, although
death sentences were handed down continuously by the High and Supreme Courts for murder
and drug trafficking convictions. These were automatically commuted to life in prison. Over
the years, death sentences have instead been commuted to life imprisonment.

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist society which teaches the sanctity of all life, but the pressure for the
return of the death penalty has been mounting over recent years. One of the laws that has
been in focus extensively says that a legal system is not allowed to sentence someone to death
if they are under the age of 18, Sri Lanka supports this law and has never ever given Death
Penalty to the one under the age of 18. Although some believe that capital punishment may
minimize crime in society, it is difficult to have an impact on crime merely through
punishment, without changing peoples attitudes and mindset, Thushara Upuldeniya,
commissioner of prisons (intelligence and security) and spokesperson for the Department of
Prisons. 6 countries have refrained from carrying out capital punishment although they still
retain the law, which states that under special circumstances the death penalty can be
implemented, special circumstances includes a terrorist caught red handed or even an ISIS
agent or a human-eater!

Sri Lanka is amongst 50 countries that have not used death penalty in the last 10 years but
have not abolished the capital punishment officially as well. In a series of four resolutions
adopted in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013, the General Assembly urged its Member States
to respect international standards that protect the rights of those facing the death penalty and
to progressively restrict its use and reduce the number of offences which are punishable by
death.
Capital punishment is against Human rights but sometimes humans commit crimes which do
not come under human criteria. In special circumstances, death penalty is required to protect
humanity and humans. The terrorists, ISIS agents or the cruel rapists should get a strict
punishment and the strictest is Death Penalty. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation and non
violence is the main motive of Buddhism. Sri Lanka therefore punishes the cruel criminals as
the life imprisonment but terrorists can also break the jails. Government bears the expenses of
the cruel criminals by providing them food, shelter and clothing. Of Course Death Penalty is
against humanity but to save humanity, humanity can be forgotten for a short period of time.
Terrorists also oppose human rights by killing the humanity, Rapists also oppose humanity.
Sri Lanka is not following Death Penalties and Capital Punishments since 23 rd June, 1976. Sri
Lanka also thinks life imprisonment is a better idea than death penalty for serious crimes but
the most serious crimes such as Rape, Terrorist Attacks, Drugs or Human Trafficking should
be hanged or sent to and isolated place i.e. an island like Australia did for those entering
Australia illegally, thinks Sri Lanka.
The five countries with the most executions are Iran (388+), Iraq (120+), Saudi Arabia (69+),
the United States (52), and China, which executed more people than the rest of the world
combined, according to same report by Amnesty International. Countries like Iran and Iraq
and being supported by VETO countries United States of America and China for not
abolishing death penalty.
Why oppose Death Penalty:
As the World has a Better alternative: Life without parole.
The death penalty puts innocent lives at risk for an example, since the reinstatement
of the death penalty in the United States in 1976, 138 innocent men and women have
been released from death row, including some who came within minutes of execution.
Race and place determine who lives and who dies. Like, who kill whites are more
likely to be sentenced to die than those who kill African-Americans, in United States
of America.

VETO power country United States of America and China, is one of the major
advocates and users of capital punishment. Till VETO countries totally abolish using
death penalty for punishing criminals, it will not make an impact on smaller nations
like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia etc. in abolishing Death penalty. VETO countries have
to contribute and take first step in completely abolishing Capital Punishment.
Poor quality defense leaves many sentenced to death. A study at Columbia University
found that 68% of all death penalty cases were reversed on appeal, with inadequate defence as
one of the main reasons requiring reversal, in USA.

Capital punishment does not deter crime. Scientific studies have consistently failed to
states without the death penalty has a lower murder rate than neighboring states with
the death penalty.
The death penalty is applied at random. The death penalty is a lethal lottery in USA:
of the 15,000 to 17,000 homicides committed every year in the United States,
approximately 120 people are sentenced to death, less than 1%.
Capital punishment goes against almost every religion. Although, isolated passages of
the Bible have been quoted in support of the death penalty, almost all religious groups
in the world regard executions as immoral.
Mentally ill people are executed. One out of every ten who has been executed in the
United States of America since 1977 is mentally ill, according to Amnesty
International and the National Association on Mental Illness. Although the U.S.
Supreme Court has decreed that people with mental retardation may not be
executed.
Sri Lanka is not into practicing death penalties for criminals and Sri Lanka will try to
persuade countries which are into this practice to avoid capital punishment. Sri Lanka looks
forward to offering its support and thoughts in order to dismiss this practice. Sri Lanka will
try that whole World will unite and create other ways of punishments for serious crimes and
maintain humanity.

Bibliography:

From the Committee Guide of UNHRC


http://www.sundaytimes.lk/030323/mirror/5.html
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/DeathPenalty.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_
http://www.unicef.org/esaro/African_Charter_articles_in_full.pdf