President refuses to sanction death penalty


President Ranil Wickremesinghe informed the Supreme Court through the Attorney General yesterday (31), of his refusal to place his signature for the implementation of capital punishment.

Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle on behalf of the Attorney General informed the Court of Wickremesinghe’s refusal to sign for the implementation of death penalty when the Fundamental Rights Petitions filed against the decision of former President Maithripala Sirisena in 2019 to carry out the death penalty of four accused was taken up.

The Petitions were taken up before a three-member Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Vijith Malalgoda, L.T.B. Dehideniya, and Murdu Fernando.

ASG Nerin Pulle, making submissions on behalf of the Attorney General, said the Government has taken a policy decision not to implementthe death penalty.

Chairman of the Bench, Justice Malalgoda informed the petitioner’s lawyers to inform Court on 22 February next year, if there is any need to continue hearing of the Petitions.

Sirisena had made a statement on 26 June 2019 that he has decided to sign the execution of death penalty of four prisoners sentenced for drug-related offences.

Accordingly, the Petitions were filed by several parties including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP).

The Petitioners noted that such decision by Sirisena is against public policy and is contrary to principles of International Human Rights, while stating that it is unjust and unfair. They thereby sought an order nullifying the decision made by Sirisena.