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EU, UK and Canada send joint letter to Sri Lanka opposing death penalty reinstatement

The heads of embassies of several Western states have written to Sri Lanka’s president expressing their opposition to the reported resumption of capital punishment on the island.

The Delegation of the European Union, the missions of the EU Member States in Sri Lanka as well as the diplomatic missions of the Governments of Canada and Norway in Sri Lanka all signed a joint letter to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, in which they wanted to “verify the worrying information in the public domain about the intention of the Sri Lankan government to resume implementing the death penalty after a moratorium of more than 40 years”.

The letter went on to state that “they strongly and unequivocally oppose capital punishment in all circumstances and in all cases”.

“The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity, does not have any proven deterrent effect, and allows judicial errors to become fatal and irreversible,” it added.

The letter comes following a declaration by the Sri Lankan president that he will implement capital punishment, with Sri Lanka's ministry of Buddhasasana announced that the cabinet had decided to implement it.

The decision has also been criticised by Amnesty International, who called on Sri Lanka to withdraw its plans.

In 2015, despite Sri Lanka telling the UN Human Rights Council that it would "maintain the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its ultimate abolition", Mr Sirisena said that he would look to approve capital punishment on the island.