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IS DEATH PENALTY A CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?

1 December 2015 06:52 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Death is painful and unpleasant. Animals or human beings want to live at least one minute more at the death which is common to all. Life is pleasant and enjoyable during the lifetime. One being got the right to take this precious life of another? Is he/she not liable for the maximum punishment depending on the gravity? In the animal kingdom, the law of the jungle and the survival of the fittest prevails. Carnivores kill prey for food, but do not kill unnecessarily. Only the prey is killed to meet hunger. Man kills others for various other reasons. They kill in mass for no reasons. Some legal systems have accepted taking others lives as legal as punishment and deterrent to prevent crime against society. Death sentence is imposed for killing another, and many other major crimes which have a long history running back to primitive ages.


Death Sentence/Capital punishment in Sri Lanka and worldwide
Death sentence was practised in Sri Lanka during the period of ancient kings who were also guardians of Buddhism based on peace, non-aggression non-violence and promoting the value of living beings. In other counties worldwide too, capital punishment was prevalent irrespective of their religious practice and beliefs. During the time of the Sinhala Kings, the kinds and types of torture and death have been cruel and callous presumably with the Indian influence.
Currently the death penalty is governed by the Penal Code imported from the British during colonial period though it was taken away from the British Jurisprudence. Section 296 of the penal code states that ‘whoever commits murder shall be punishable with death and Section 54 (AB) of poison opium and dangerous drugs ordinance with mandatory death sentence’ are parts of the laws of the land though not implemented by many Presidents who had the last word on implementation. No execution had taken place in Sri Lanka since June 23, 1976. With successive governments have attempted to reintroduce capital punishment - due to agitations from the public as a result of the unprecedented crime rate in the country. Agitation activates from time to time with mass murders and slaying of innocents. Again the current topic of the day is Death Penalty due to Seya’s and Vidya’s murders followed by killings of innocent children amidst others. The death sentence is imposed on drug trafficking, which is a fast killer of the youth and a catalyst for crime and is fast spreading. Has capital punishment reduced the drug menace and the Mafia? It is a matter to be discussed by sociologists. 

22 countries were known to have carried out judicial executions in 2014 and 607 were carried out in 2014. To date, China with 1000, Iran 289, Saudi Arabia 90, USA 35 and Sudan 23 executions. The first established death penalty law was as far back as the 1st century BC in the code of king ‘Hammaurabi’ which codified death penalty for 25 different crimes.


Agitation by the ordinary masses for implementation
Agitation for capital punishment is gathering momentum among the ordinary masses when the lawyers, professionals and the educated have a cautious approach due to the ineffectiveness of the legal system, incapability of the criminal justice system and administrative justice in Sri Lanka. Even in the developed countries such as the USA, UK and the west, despite the modern developments, there are grave loopholes in the process of administration of justice. The USA is known to have tough justice whereas UK is comparatively soft and professional with modern techniques and developments in the case law and administration of justice. Campaign and the agitation of the general masses is justified due to the increase of the crime rate drastically and the inhuman nature of the crimes committed often all over the country. They are not fully aware of the weaknesses in the legal system and the process which is basically expensive and not foolproof. It takes a long time as much as a decade at times for the trial to reach the trial stage and the witnesses and the police by then are transferred and could be tampered with proving the adage ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’. How reliable the Precaution and Police are matters to be considered in the judicial process which leads to the life of an individual on trial? In the UK, with the advancement of the jurisprudence and the system still miscarriage of justice takes place. It is fair and reasonable to postpone or deny the society on carrying on the mode of punishment which is a necessity for a society seeking justice a display are matters left for the Judiciary and the leaders of the administration of justice.


Anti-Death Punishment campaign worldwide
The anti-Death Penalty campaign is gathering momentum when many countries in Asia, Africa and Middle East are in the process of implementation of the death penalty with no resistance by the citizens. In the Middle East, stoning to death for matters considered trivial by the world is welcomed by the people based on religious beliefs. Controversial statements by the new Sri Lankan ambassador in Saudi Arabia in conceding and justifying stoning to death of the Sri Lankan women on the base that those in employment should respect the law of the land raises many eyebrows of law abiding Sri Lankans who co-sponsored a human resolution even against her nation expecting the goodwill of the international brotherhood.  Sri Lanka is a signatory to the Optimal Protocol which strongly suggest the abolition of the Death Penalty and has later taken part at the vote on the moratorium process on the campaign on abolition.

 President Sirisena made a controversial remark in favour of implementation in the wake of two murders of Seya and Vidya that, if the Parliament gives the nod, he is prepared to use his prerogative to reactivate the execution process. Among 54 African countries, 36 have retained the death penalty; 17 out of 35 American States; 36 out of 54 Afro-Asian countries have retained capital punishment. Out of 49 European countries, only Belarus had retained capital punishment. A South African Judge remarked that the ‘great deterrent to crime is the likelihood that the offender will be apprehended convicted and punished’. 


Capital Punishment and Life sentence
Suicidal rate in Sri Lanka is one of the highest in the world. But, the moment the news of reactivation was announced, the inmates of the death row started purging. When the death sentence is announced, the relatives start sobbing and often the accused faints or cries in anguish. There is a view that the death penalty may be a deterrent for crime. Most religions do not encourage death sentence. There is a view against the reactivation of the death penalty on the grounds of insufficient training of the administration of justice, insufficient medical and scientific support, time- consumed political interference, including bribery and corruption. 

In Sri Lanka, it is revealed that the life in prisons is with a lot of facilities and a place to earn by demanding ransoms and engaging in illegal transactions. With the payroll, the inmate would be able to leave the prisons earlier than the sentence, which is not the case in USA, where the inmates are on solitary confinement with no parole with stringent conditions to worst offenders. Living is so difficult that they prefer to die than languishing in the prison. But it is expensive to maintain these conditions in Sri Lanka. It may be a good idea to bring about changes on these lines, and the current safety nets of going through the Trial Judge, the Attorney General, The Minister of Justice and the advisers to the President could be regularized and introduced safety reforms. It is a good idea to continue the debate until a final decision is taken, taking into all the vies and considerations of the concerned peaceful and peace loving Citizen.

(A seminar will be held at the OPA - at Stanley Wijesundara Mawatha on December 21, 2015 from 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm. Entrance free. The speakers will be Rev. Medagoda Abeystissa, Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Noel Dias, Srinath Perera PC, Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahawa, Dr. Jeevani Nirella of the Faculty of Law and senior journalist Gaston De Rosayro. For further details, please contact 0777881666 /0779529797 or sarath7@hotmail.co.uk).
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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 


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