The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday (22), in Parliament, expressed consent for the implementation of the capital punishment.
SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, participating in the second reading stage debate, on the draft Bill of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, said drafting laws to implement the death penalty was an urgent need of the time.
At this juncture, Justice Minister, President’s Counsel M.U.M. Ali Sabry intervened and questioned him as to whether it was his personal standpoint or the position of his Party.
Premadasa: “We do not have a personal standpoint. We have Party standpoints.”
Ali Sabry: “That is good, now we know that your Party’s position is to implement the death penalty.”
Premadasa: “I do not know why the Justice Minister opposes implementing the death penalty against terrorists and drug dealers.”
Ali Sabry: “That is fine because your own Party men had gone before the Supreme Court against the implementation of the capital punishment. We can take this down as your position.”
Premadasa said that the SJB stands for power sharing and not to concentrate power around one organ of the Government.
“United States President Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the Government of the people, by the people, for the people, which means that it is a social contract between the public and the rulers.”
“Montesquieu argued that the tripartite system should be practised to maintain checks and balances between the Executive, the Legislative, and Judicial functions of the Government in order to prevent one organ of the Government infringing on the others. The clauses of the 20th Amendment destroy the checks and balances that have been introduced earlier. When a single person has the power to make the appointments to high posts, the checks and balances has been damaged. Those who protested against the Executive Presidency have forgotten their own protests.”
“Why do you fear the mechanism that was introduced under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to bring about a just society?
“But this is a struggle for power between the President and the Prime Minister. But what is correct is to bring checks and balances between the two offices.
“The 20th Amendment is not for the betterment of the public. What we have got to do is to set up a National Security Council and a new Health Act. The death penalty should be brought for those who engage in terrorist activities and those who engage in drug trafficking and that is the stance of the SJB.”
“I request you to listen to the public,” Premadasa said. “I request you to listen to Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera and Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera who associated closely with my father and former President, the late Ranasinghe Premadasa.”
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake)