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Human Rights

Storm of reaction to death penalty

Anti death penalty poster in Colombo/ Arjuna Ranawana RepublicNext

The reaction to Sri Lanka’s decision to resume executing prisoners on death row has been almost universally negative, with sources varying from the government of the United Kingdom to billionaire businessman Richard Branson condemning the move.

Branson tweeted that he hopes President Maithripala Sirisena takes a cue from Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih and “decides otherwise.”

He added “executions can be devastating and never the solution. The wonderful people of Sri Lanka deserve better than this.”

Opposition MP Namal Rajapaksa called it a “terrible idea”.

The Secretary General of Amnesty International Kumi Naidoo echoed Branson.

Executions, he said in a video, “represent the failure to create a society that chooses human life instead of vengeance.”

The UK issued a warning that the resumption of executions can have consequences.

A statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office noted that Sri Lanka voted in favor of a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty at the UN General Assembly just six months ago and reversal of the policy would harm Sri Lanka’s international standing.

“A reversal of this policy would be a regressive step that would harm Sri Lanka’s international standing and its reputation as a tourist destination and growing centre for business.”

The FCO further warned that reinstating the death penalty will make it more difficult for the UK to cooperate on law enforcement issues and called on Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on the death penalty.

“Implementation of the death penalty will inevitably make it more difficult for the UK to cooperate on law enforcement issues, including on counter terrorism, and will require us to review our technical assistance programmes on relevant policing, defence and other security issues.”

But there is support for the move from Sri Lankans on Twitter.

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Dear President @MaithripalaS, Executions are never the solution. They represent the failure to create a society that chooses human life instead of vengeance. I appeal to you to make sure the death penalty is never revived in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Hanspeter Mock@SwissAmbLKA