Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (26 June) in response to reports that the Sri Lankan President had publically announced that executions were to take place:
“I am extremely concerned by reports that President Sirisena has publically announced that four death sentences are to be carried out. I appeal to the Sri Lankan Government to continue to refrain from carrying out executions following a moratorium lasting more than 40 years, to which Sri Lanka itself expressed its commitment as recently as December 2018. Executions would be a considerable setback along the path towards a reconciled and peaceful society. The application of the death penalty damages Sri Lanka’s reputation, its ambitions in the area of human rights and the country as a business location.”
In Sri Lanka the death penalty is permitted by law, but was last implemented in 1976. It applies for murder, but can also be imposed for other crimes resulting in the death of a person (e.g. false witness on the basis of which someone is sentenced to death), drug trafficking/possession, robbery, kidnapping and rape. At the end of 2018, a total of 1299 people sentenced to death were in prison. On 17 December 2018, Sri Lanka voted in favour of the moratorium on the use of the death penalty at the United Nations General Assembly. From 19 to 22 June 2019 a delegation from the International Commission against the Death Penalty visited Sri Lanka to assess the current situation with regard to capital punishment in the country.