Sri Lanka votes in favour of death penalty moratorium at UNGA

Death penalty rope

Sri Lanka voted in favour of a resolution on the “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) plenary sessions last week.

The UNGA adopted the draft resolution on December 17 by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 35 against, with 32 abstentions. This resolution was proposed by Brazil on behalf of an Inter-Regional Task Force of member states and co-sponsored by 83 states.

The UN in a statement said that “it called on all States to respect international standards on the rights of those facing the death penalty and ensure that the practice is not applied on the basis of discriminatory laws or as a result of discriminatory or arbitrary application of the law”.

A fresh dialogue on the ‘death penalty’ erupted in Sri Lanka following President Maithripala Sirisena’s announcement in July that he was ready to implement the death sentences on the convicted drug dealers, who continue drug trafficking in the country from within prisons. The President subsequently appointed a committee to look into that proposal.

The President’s announcement met with strong opposition from the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and other human rights activists.

According to the Amnesty International, 103 out of 193 UN member states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and 139 have done so in law or practice. In 2017, executions were reported in 22 UN member states.

“Since 2007 the UN General Assembly has adopted, with increased cross-regional support, six resolutions calling on all states that still retain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing this punishment.

The overall number of votes in favour of these resolutions grew from 104 in 2007 to 117 in 2016” the Amnesty International said in a release.

Sri Lanka has not executed the death penalty since 1976.

(Source: Daily News – By Disna Mudalige)