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Sri Lankan parliament debates implementation of death penalty

Sri Lankan lawmakers called for the reinstatement of capital punishment today, in a debate ahead of interviews for a new hangman next week.

The debate was started by Colombo District UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra’s motion to reinstate the death penalty in the face of “increasing anti-social and violent activities”.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha meanwhile noted the Foreign Minister told the UN Human Rights Council last month that Sri Lanka would not implement capital punishment. Mr Rajapaksha, who is also minister of the Buddha Sasana, said that the matter had to be considered carefully, and would not be implemented this year as Sri Lanka voted in favour of a UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty.

The debate came ahead of Sri Lanka’s interviews for the post of hangman next week. The gallows at the Welikada Prison, a site notorious for the endemic use of sexual violence and torture against Tamil detainees, were also being refurbished.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithriapala Sirisena stated last month that he was expecting to approve capital punishment on the island by next year but, though he did not have to, would seek parliamentary approval first.