Friday Forum is deeply disturbed at the prospect of judicial executions taking place again in Sri Lanka after a gap of nearly 40 years. This is, we believe, an understandable but simplistic and counter-productive reaction to horrible crimes. It is a measure that will divert attention from the real need, which is to seek why and how these appalling things are occurring, and then take preventive action. The true incentive to crime is that perpetrators feel that they can get away with it. The real deterrent is the likelihood that one will be found out, arrested, tried, convicted and punished. The remedy is improving the criminal justice system – better crime prevention, better crime detection, better investigation, improved prosecutions and trial procedures.
It is in the most horrific and pitiable cases, where there is huge pressure on the police, both by their superiors and by the public, to show results, that arrests of innocent persons and miscarriages of justice are most likely to take place. Do we have enough faith in our police, our prosecutors, our judges, our defence lawyers, our courts, our public from whom juries are drawn, to be sure that arrests and prosecutions and convictions will never be influenced by inefficiency or carelessness or political pressure or corruption? Or just plain bona fide mistake? That perjured evidence will never be acted on? Even under the best criminal justice system, wrong convictions are bound to take place. Because convictions depend on human beings and no human institution is infallible. Of course this applies to all criminal proceedings and consequent punishments. But the death penalty is in a category of its own because it is irreversible. Recent judicial reviews of criminal convictions in the UK have revealed many instances of unsafe convictions. In some, the accused had been hanged. In others, they would have been hanged had the death penalty not been abolished.
This is not a matter to be decided by public opinion or even by majority votes in Parliament, understandably inflamed by ghastly sexual attacks and murders. It is a matter for leaders to show true leadership after sober assessment. Many countries have abolished capital punishment and have not experienced a subsequent rise in crime. Many moral leaders and eminent Sri Lankans have opposed the death penalty; the King of Bhutan abolished it as contrary to Buddhism. It is also surely significant that the death penalty is not included in the punishments that the International Criminal Court can impose for even the most heinous of war crimes.
Professor Savitri Goonesekere Dr. Geedreck Usvatte-aratchi
on behalf of the Friday Forum
Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Mr. Faiz-ur Rahman, Mr. Ananda Galappatti, Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi , Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Professor Camena Guneratne, Mr. Saliya Pieris, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Professor Gameela Samarasinghe, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Mr. S.C.C.Elankovan, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Ms, Damaris Wickremesekera, Mr. D Wijayanandana, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Professor Ranjini Obeyesekere, Ms. Manouri Muttetuwegama, Professor Gananath Obeyesekere, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne,
rio ziegelaar / September 22, 2015
This has been my stance. The death penalty will not stop as the criminala in Sri Lanka are aware that the Judicial system is biased and corrupt. Prof. Gooneseker, says it clearly here that the system on top has to change. If it is a normal practice that a criminla is able to bribe the system then it is an open license to kill. The MR government imported drugs and sold it with the help of underworld criminals who were protected all these years, so you cannot sentence the person who buys it for his personnal use.
If the cry of the public for the re-instation of the Death penalty is heeded by the present Government (which I think will not happen), then why not change everything the voters are crying for.
Amarasiri / September 22, 2015
Prof. Savitri Goonesekere
RE: Death Penalty Distracts From Real Need: Friday Forum Opposes Death Penalty
While it a distraction, it should be replaced by hard labor and life imprisonment, so that in effect it is death penalty. Example like the Gulag archipelago,
“It is in the most horrific and pitiable cases, where there is huge pressure on the police, both by their superiors and by the public, to show results, that arrests of innocent persons and miscarriages of justice are most likely to take place. :
The question is the killing of the innocent and those who are framed by the current coppupt police and the judicatory.
The problem to be solved in the Corrupt Judiciary and Police who seen to work hand in hand in collaboration with the politicians,
Sri Lanka needs hybrid Courts, with UN supervision.
Spring Koha / September 22, 2015
The Friday Forum has spoken well.
There is NO case for the Death Penalty in our blessed land (or anywhere else on this planet, for that matter).
As written, ‘The real deterrent is the likelihood that one will be found out, arrested, tried, convicted and punished’.
Our deterrent should be a robust rule of law, sure pursuit of those that break the law, arrest, charge and convict Imprisonment/punishment that fits the crime, all with NO interference from anyone, including politicians. There should be NO pardons (NO, not even Presidential), and definitely NO rewards with diplomatic appointments or JP’ships.
Native Vedda / September 22, 2015
I am with you.
We say no to capital punishment.
Stop recruiting Hangmen (Alucosuwa).
Sigma / September 22, 2015
Good NV, this is my preferred option.
Have the death penalty and sentence to death the real baddies.
But don’t appoint a hangman.
Keep repeatedly advertising and reject all applicants as not suitable.
We are sure Gota will not apply, in which case rejecting will be rather difficult.
Keep the death row fellows guessing.
Maybe Gota will apply.
Threat is better than execution, no?
Girigoris / September 23, 2015
Prof. Savitri and For all those who are against capital punishment.
When a burglar/robber/rapist killer comes to your house embrace him and welcome him with a Tea/soft drink and then take him to the Almirah and the safe whatever or wherever you have hidden your valuable jewelleries and the money put it in a bag and give it him tell the rest of the family members not to interfere and that you are doing a good deed.When the burglar/robber/rapist killer is leaving give him your credit card and the pin number and finally give in to him yourself or allow him to rape you. This way you have done a good deed in this blessed land.
So a Big No for Capital punishment
John / September 22, 2015
[Edited out], (no better than Dr. DJ in politics )go back to school to understand what the crime is all about.
To say the least crimes gone up 02 folds from 1977 to date because no deterrent.
Don’t use Buddhism when it suits you to fool countrymen.
Rapists . murderers get bailed out in 02 months of the crime & do same again & again , so the laws should be strengthened & guilty should be executed.
RuwanL / September 23, 2015
I don’t agree with you! Who will decide whether the accused is guilty? The corrupt lawyers and judges?
Who has the right to take away life? Did you create life? Therefore no one has the right to take away another’s life
razi / September 22, 2015
rapists,serial killers,contract killers and big time drug dealers…how should the law be enforced on these criminals
Native Vedda / September 22, 2015
Please refer to Spring Koha’s brilliant comments for guidance.
ibadun / September 22, 2015
Whether capital punishment to be implemented rather introduced is not a serious matter here. The matter is how our criminal justice system works right now and whether the system conveys the right message to correct the behavior of society. Our current system has many inefficiencies in enforcement, prosecution and trial procedures etc. This is the area where we need immediate reforms and route causes of the crime should be identified and addressed and importantly the system of correcting social behavior such as education and awareness should be improved.
It is common that nobody think range of punishments before commit a crime! There is no point having double capital punishment (if any) if you can’t found out, arrested, tried, convicted a accused..
Dev / September 22, 2015
Did the FF release a statement on the UNHRC findings?
Not that I am aware of.
I wonder why?
IncovenientTruth / September 24, 2015
That would have been Inconvenient,with those trips to Big Apple etc
Arun / September 22, 2015
Death penalty if commuted it should be life in prison – Those who are awarded death penalty after due process should be allowed to ‘rot and die’ in prison for depriving the right of life of the murdered.
Punitham / September 22, 2015
Thank you, Professor:
”…………. This is not a matter to be decided by public opinion or even by majority votes in Parliament, understandably inflamed by ghastly sexual attacks and murders. It is a matter for leaders to show true leadership after sober assessment. Many countries have abolished capital punishment and have not experienced a subsequent rise in crime. Many moral leaders and eminent Sri Lankans have opposed the death penalty; the King of Bhutan abolished it as contrary to Buddhism. It is also surely significant that the death penalty is not included in the punishments that the International Criminal Court can impose for even the most heinous of war crimes.”
There must be education( one 30-minute lesson of high quality will do) on this issue – all teachers can use this article itself.
I can’t thank the good professor enough.
baludeen / September 22, 2015
Native Vedda / September 23, 2015
Here is a brilliant answer to a stupid question:
Is it really feasible that a chimpanzee with a typewriter and an infinite amount of time will be able to produce the complete works of Shakespeare?.
A SIMILAR experiment is currently being tried using many millions of chimpanzees. It is called the internet.
Good luck next time when you attempt to type the complete works of Shakespeare.
baludeen / September 23, 2015
what a stupid vedda
Mallaiyuran / September 22, 2015
This can be used to hang the Tigers the New Royals going to investigate under American resolution on the tables of UNHRC.
“the King of Bhutan abolished it as contrary to Buddhism. “
But I believe Mahanama and Anaharika Tharmapala has said it is within Buddhism. Revenging the way to got forward, as per Mahavamsa.
Think of this, if this was there earlier, the Sacred Buddhist army who carried out the punishment of Thajudeen will be investigated. There would be a file on anybody who would not be wanted, so they can be easily punished.
Raj / September 22, 2015
SL is considered a Buddhist country & there are many, including politicians, who are prepared, literally, even go to war to safeguard our so called Buddhist legacy. In this light, when capital punishment is no longer practiced in most civilized countries (apart from notably some states in US), it is sheer hypocrisy that SL should reintroduce capital punishment. It has now come to light that many innocent people around the world have been subjected to miscarriage of justice & had paid the ultimate but even if guilty, who has the right to take another’s life? Isn’t it playing god? It is time religious leaders, particularly, the Buddhist clergy, take up this debate & clarify their stand.
In SL, the inefficiency of the police & corruption in the judicial process is well known. In such an environment, there will be scapegoats & not the guilty who will pay the ultimate price. The evil in society is a result of bad governance. The previous regime(s) turned a blind eye to all the corruption of their cronies and with it came the related violence, intimidation & other crimes. If the death penalty is introduced as a deterrent, there is no evidence to confirm this fact. Thailand has the death penalty for drug trafficking but its the poor, uninformed couriers, lured by the money, who get caught & the drug trade continues to flourish. A life sentence for serious crime is fairer, as an innocent prisoner can still hope to have the judgement overturned some day while a guilty prisoner will repent the sins, knowing never tasting freedom again.
Sunil Dahanayake / September 22, 2015
The current government (MY3 and RW) is attempting to hide the real problems faced by the Sri Lanka with unimportant micro issues and solutions. Some examples are as follows:
1. The traditional agricultural system is in disarray and no future. One such example is that the “Goviyas” are unable to sell their paddy harvest at a reasonable price. The traditional agricultural system needs to be revived. New products, new markets and new methods to be invented. This requires an intelligent person to be appointed as the Minister for Agriculture. While these problems are popping up, MY 3 says that he will organise a competition for farmers and offered the title of “Best Goviya”. This statement is a ridiculous joke.
2. The entire country is like a garbage pit. But MY3 and “the leader of hela Karumaya” is organising beach cleaning up programs in front of video cameras. The real situation is that the urban councils and village councils do not have proper garbage removal equipments and trucks.
3. The LKR exchange rate is plummeting at an alarming rate. The exchange rate is an indicator of the development of the country. As a result of the decreasing value of LKR, the price of imports will go up very soon and inflation also will go up. Under these circumstances, MY 3 says that he wants to increase the growth of the GDP or national income by 10%.
These are only a few examples of “gonkathas” narrated by the leaders of Sri Lanka every day. They always says that they have a “nawa Yanthranaya” to solve the problems of people. But we cannot see at least one year or a five year centralised master plan. They do not have the required vision, mission, knowledge and experience to drive our country to enhance the social well being of our people, at least, for the next 5 years.
It is a very sad situation and we cannot do anything that the people of Sri Lanka have voted for the “Yahapalanya” government.
Common Sense / September 22, 2015
Policy options need be carefully decided. More than MY3 it is RW who is the Minister in charge of policy and the national policy should not assume the nature of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
RW, in his strategy for development of the country, has spelt out the need to get external concessions like GSP+ and fishing exports, especially to the EU and thereby encourage investment for exports to uplift the national economy.
But the EU is completely against judicial executions. Clearly if the Sirisena faction of the Yahapalana Government has its way to implement the Death Penalty then it is a blow for RW’s strategy of building bridges with EU part of the Western World.
Sirisena on the other hand can maintain that he said during the campaign he promised to give maximum penalty to drug traffickers. Good! Now the very famous drug trafficker, while his trial is on has distributed money to big wigs, 45 of whom are prison authorities through EazyCash. Now if the Death Penalty is implemented for this kind of trafficker, WHAT IS THE GUARANTEE THAT THE NOOSE AND THE ROPE WOULD BE STEADY UNTIL THE FELLOW DIES HANGING BY THE NECK? If the Execution fails doesn’t he go scot free as per the traditions of Executions?
So in our deliberations we have to tread cautiously. The description and the content of the Friday Forum must be heeded to. Two parts contribute towards Crime prevention. Firstly, the swift detection and conviction. The Second is the deterency of the punishment. The contribution of the former largely outweighs the latter.
So in the question of whether to hang or not hang, the decision is obvious.
Harsha / September 23, 2015
Enforcing the death penalty is better than killing suspects extrajudicially. During the regime of Medamulana Kalakanniya several suspects were killed when taken to show hidden weapons.
H / September 23, 2015
Brilliant! These are my sentiments precisely! I wonder if the Friday Forum heard my thoughts, somehow :)
We have people like Sarath De Abrew and Sarath Silva in our legal system, who, in my opinion, have lost all credibility. How can we, in good conscience, agree to sentence a person to death with such characters in our legal system.
I also have another worry…let me explain using a hypothetical situation.
Suppose murder is a capital crime which warrants the death penalty. Now, every murderer has the potential to face death. Consider how children in Panama are forced into gang life. If they don’t kill another person on the order of a gang, they or their family is killed. Some kids end up being killed, or they try to smuggle themselves across the border, others kill. It’s a really horrible situation, sure, but does a person like that deserve the death penalty? What would you do if you and your family were threatened with death if you didn’t kill?
The power over death is too much of a power for us flawed human beings to wield. Such a power should only exist within the real of the creator of creation.
Off The Wall / September 23, 2015
DEATH to self-righteousness.
Upali Jayatilaka / September 23, 2015
Death penalty is not the answer to the problems with regard to rising crime. The criminal Justice system needs a systematic review and change to meet the needs of problems today and address the potential issues in time to come.
1. The police service should be made a civil public service as opposed to a defence force.
2. It should be made independent and accountable void of political or any other type of influence.
3. The Criminal procedure should be re vamped to international standards.
4. Police training should be beefed up and on district level investigation departments should be strengthened with long term policy. Promotions should be based on performance in relation to 75% and seniority based promotions should be restricted to 25%.
5. Police discipline and accountability should be strengthened.
6. Lawyers and Judicial officers, police officers, court officers should have compulsory education and training requiring to follow compulsory assessments at least once in 5 years to keep up with procedure and Law.
7. Law college should be run by a committee of 8 permanent staff Members, Principal, Deputy Principal, Registrar, Deputy Registrar, and 2 Lecturers one senior and one junior, 2 members from Colombo law faculty and Open University law department creating a full time body expanding the curriculum, decision making process to be transferred to such committee and the Council of Legal Education having a supervisory role only. Function of the Board of studies to be transferred to that committee and supervisory role to be kept by the Council of Legal Education.
8. Law College should take the responsibility of running the continuing education courses for Lawyers, Court Staff, Police officers, Public prosecutors, Prison officers, Probation and Rehabilitation officers. Specialist courses should be designed to meet the needs.
9. Police powers should be expanded where minor offenses could be dealt with fixed penalties without the need to attend court.
10. An island wide state funded criminal defence service should be undertake replacing the legal aid system that is operating at present. All arrested citizens should have access to a lawyer. Early guilty pleas should be encouraged with a 1/3 discount.
11. Public should have access to information with regard to persistent offenders and electronic tagging system should be introduced to such offenders on bail.
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / September 23, 2015
Politicians and leaders who have contributed to making what our country has become today, by subverting the constitution, breaking all laws, enthroning impunity, destroying our judiciary, politicising the public services, engaging and encouraging corruption, bribery, rape and murder, should be investigated, prosecuted and shot in public. There cannot be greater crimes than what they have done. They do not deserve compassion. They are noxious weeds and have to be removed from our body politic!
With them around and enconsed in parliament, this country cannot progress or recover.
Ken Dharmapala / September 23, 2015
Criminal activity does not arise in a vacuum. There are causes which result in crime. One good place to start looking at the increase in criminality in the country is to look at statistics. Some areas that come to mind are:
1. Per capita consumption of alcohol is rising exponentially in Sri Lanka. One reason is the issuance of liquor licenses as political rewards and the establishment of taverns by politicians or their catchers.
2. Increase in drug usage. Reason: Political patronage, and protection given, to drug importers and leading politicians involvement in the trade.
3. Rural poverty in a neo-liberal economy.
4. Widening income gap between the rich and the poor and the rising expectations of the poor in an economy based on consumerism and the conspicuous consumption by the rich.
5. Excessive sermons on TV, preaching via loud speakers, erection of temples, bodhiyas, and statues making people disregard the spiritual messages and reverting to mere idolatry.
President Sirisena is trying to treat the symptoms without diagnosing the causes. His reaction to crime is no better than that of an uneducated person. To reduced crime President Sirisena should address the causes. He should engage a task force to identify why there is an increase in crime and address those issues to bring down the crime rate. It may take some time, but the effects would be lasting.
Judicial execution of criminals is not the answer. It is only a typical worthless political reaction to pressing social and economic problems.
Sylvia Haik / September 23, 2015
If we retain the death penalty, we are no better than the barbaric Saudis. The method of killing is different but a killing nevertheless. You must watch the video by John Oliver on his Last Week Tonight show, commenting on the botched up execution in Oklahoma and their Governor Rick Perry confirming that it is a price worth paying even if an innocent man is executed. Only in America.
colin / September 23, 2015
My simple question to people who oppose the death penalty if any one very very very close to them are victims of a murder or rape (God forbid it ever happens to anybody) will they still oppose the introduction of the death. I want an honest answer please
Native Vedda / September 23, 2015
” I want an honest answer please”
Many will forgive the perpetrator and many have.
Forgiveness is not a attribute many will appreciate. However as Gandhi said ‘An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind’.
It does not mean you let the perpetrator go scot free. Depending on the nature and the seriousness of the crime bang the guilty in prison and throw the keys away.
Of course I am ready to oppose capital punishment even if the victim is dear and near to my family. My position is non negotiable.
We say no to capital punishment.
Stop recruiting hangmen.
colinj / September 24, 2015
Naive Veddah you speak of forgiveness and in the same breath you say
“It does not mean you let the perpetrator go scot free. Depending on the nature and the seriousness of the crime bang the guilty in prison and throw the keys away”.
If you talk of forgiveness you should say ” I forgive the murderer or rapist and let him go scot free to his family”
Its sad Native Veddah that many feel sorry for the murderer or rapist but no one cares a damn for the victims family who go through their whole life in absolute sorrow and misery suffering in silence
.So Native Veddah are you willing to forgive those heartless terrorists who take the life of innocents,women and children included?
Native Vedda / September 24, 2015
One should spare his life but make him realise what he had done was wrong who had deprived the liberty of another.
Also criminal may pose danger to others if let free.
My point is that no one has the right kill another person, judicial murder or otherwise.
Miscarriage of justice cannot be rectified.
Capital punishment does not work as deterrent.
The state not pass laws that is based on vengeance or retribution.
If we go on the path we will have no one to hang the last person.
colin / September 24, 2015
“One should spare his life but make him realise what he had done was wrong who had deprived the liberty of another.” is what you say isnt it? So the brutal terrorists who plant say a bomb in a bus full of school children or say religious personalities resulting in the death of several hundreds should be spared his life and be made to realise what he has done?
I just dont agree with your contention my friend.
Native Vedda / September 24, 2015
“So the brutal terrorists who plant say a bomb in a bus full of school children or say religious personalities resulting in the death of several hundreds should be spared his life and be made to realise what he has done? “
What I said
“One should spare his life but make him realise what he had done was wrong who had deprived the liberty of another.”
Equally applies to the brutal armed forces who killed innocent people (young and old), raped men and women, tortured and made them disappear, depriving the freedom of the ordinary people. If found guilty of war crimes Gota, Fonseka, Svendra, Jegath, MR, ………….. should be spared of their life.
Ken Dharmapala / September 24, 2015
It depends on your view on life.
But let me put the question in a different way. If you are a very close relative of the person who was raped and brutally murdered, and if the perpetrator was found guilty after a due legal process and sentenced to death, would you PERSONALLY put the rope around the prisoner and open the trap-door, and then go down the steps, and hang on to the prisoner’s legs to ensure that the struggling life is extinguished?
We Buddhists take the first precept to refrain from taking life. Yet, we gladly eat flesh of slaughtered animals – claiming, “It is not we who killed the animal!” We want someone else, a hangman or a butcher, to do the dirty work that we ourselves wouldn’t do.
A criminal is only partly guilty of his or her crime. The society is guilty for the balance of that crime for “producing” that criminal.
One of the greatest aspects of being “civilized” is to be forgiving, not seeking revenge, and to relieve one’s grief through compassion and understanding. As the French say (based on Buddhism): Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner – To understand all is to forgive all.
George Orwell, in his brilliant essay, “A Hanging”, argue against capital punishment. I wish you, and all those who perhaps support capital punishment would read this essay.
colin / September 24, 2015
So Mr.Dharmapala you say that the terrorist who was responsible for the killing of many innocent women and children should be forgiven?
Ken Dharmapala / September 24, 2015
Colin, answer the question, please:
If you are a very close relative of the person who was raped and brutally murdered, and if the perpetrator was found guilty after a due legal process and sentenced to death, would you PERSONALLY put the rope around the prisoner and open the trap-door, and then go down the steps, and hang on to the prisoner’s legs to ensure that the struggling life is extinguished?
colin / September 24, 2015
Ken thats the job of the hangman which he is professionally trained to execute. I of course will throw my sympathies behind the beautiful little kids who were left behind due to this dastardly act sans a mummy to take them to school and lull them into bed with stories .Further those kids will look around and watch the other mums taking their kids back home from school joyfully while they cry inside “No mummys arms to hold me and sooth me when I cry”
Ken spare a thought for the victims off spring without throwing your lot with the brutal rapist and murderer whose acts make him worse than a wild beast
Ken Dharmapala / September 25, 2015
Loss of the mum is no different to her being knocked down by a bus. Tragic as it is, nothing whatever will bring her back. The crime itself, and the punishment of the perpetrator, is a different matter that has to be dealt with by the society.
The problem is that proponents of death penalty connect the two making the execution (judicial killing) an act of revenge – an eye for an eye. It is a primitive thing.
In a modern society we must see why the crime took place. Where did the perpetrator go wrong. How could the society prevent the emergence of such people. Are there issues in the society that needs to be addressed: alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment, consumerism and insatiable greed, sexism and sexual exploitation, corruption of our leaders, etc.
The philosophical question is whether we are creatures of circumstances or whether we have a freewill. One theory, put forward by Albert Camus, is that our lives are wholly deterministic and we only have an illusion of freewill. Buddha himself took a middle path between determinism and free-will – effects of karma (deterministic) and our ability to over such effects (Noble Eight Fold Path). So the idea that a criminal’s actions is purely based on freewill is something that no philosopher would agree with. Society does bear some responsibility for the actions of its members.
To be sure, the criminal must be incarcerated. However, the society also has a responsibility to rehabilitate the criminal.
There are enough and more stories of how murderers who escaped the gallows turning out to be exemplary people through reform and education and becoming truly remorseful of their past actions.
That is how a society advances. Hanging, stoning, chopping off the head, etc are all archaic means of dealing with crime – based purely on the principle of revenge. That has no place in civilized society.
colin / September 25, 2015
According to police sources, the suspect, in the Seya rape-murder case had made a lengthy confession to the CID.
In it, he had said, “As I was passing by the house of the child whom I abducted, I saw a light coming from a room. The window was opened and I saw three children were sleeping in one bed and a woman in the other.
“I have a habit of secretly watching women sleeping and bathing. I also like children. As I was looking through the window, I saw one beautiful girl asleep. I tried the front door handle to enter because I couldn’t jump through the window. The door was unlocked and I entered the room discreetly.
I carried the child out of the house through the front door as I feared she would wake up. Her mother was fast asleep and didn’t wake up.
The child remained fast asleep as I carried her out on my shoulder.”
In the confession, he had detailed, step by step, to the CID officers how he had raped and killed the little girl, a senior police officer said.
It had been revealed that the suspect had hidden the dead body of the child near a river bank and had gone to his sister’s home in Ingammaruwa.
A brother of the suspect had seen him wearing clothes with bloodstains and the suspect had told his brother, with threats, not to reveal anything.
Police said the suspect had spent most of his life in the wilderness; and he had fled to the Bemmulla area and stayed in the wilds as well as in a cemetery for 12 days after committing the crime.
The 32 year-old suspect, Dunesh Priyashantha alias ‘Kondaya’ had described, in detail, the sexual abuse of five-year-old girl child Seya Sadewmi in his confession to the CID. However, it will not be published here due to the manner in which the crime had been committed. The confession cannot be revealed in a civilized society.(courtesy Daily Mirror)
Ken reading the above report which should touch any human heart do you still feel that the murderer cum rapist of this 5 year old girl should not go to the gallows? Women who are raped and murdered are the mother or sister or daughter of someone out there and we all have or had mothers or many sisters,daughters,grandaughters so we are able to understand the sufferings of the victims closely connected.
I feel this man should have a date with the hangman
Ken Dharmapala / September 25, 2015
You are seeing the issue of death penalty from the perspective of the crime and the victims. When you see it this way, all you can think of is revenge. You need to separate the two, the victim and the perpetrator, and see the problem of crime from the two different perspectives.
What do we know of the criminal, his childhood, his family background, his psychological make up, the environment in which he grew up, what kind of education did he have, was he abused or molested as a child, and a million other things that eventually made the criminal what he is?
My point is that he did not become a criminal in a vacuum.
There are no “evil” people; there are only evil circumstances that make monsters out of human beings.
Hanging the criminal, to be sure a deterrent in a very marginal way, is not the answer to the deeper woes of a society.
colin / September 25, 2015
Ken I am happy to note that you do agree that capital punishment is a deterrent even in a marginal way and I also accept the fact that there maybe circumstances in society that lead some to commit murder. But,the victim like in the case of the 5 year old girl she is not responsible for the criminal’s action so she has every right to ask “why should i be raped and murdered for the ills of society?”.While we should all venture to clean up society the criminals meanwhile cannot take cover and use this pretext to continue taking innocents lives. It is said that “Society has the highest interest in preventing murder so it should use the strongest punishment available to prevent murder”. The strongest punishment in my view is the Death Penalty as the perpetrator has snuffed out another persons life while that person had every right to live so he must pay the price with his most priceless possession his own life.
Oue Sinhala Kings of old who preserved and nurtured their faith still did implement the harshest of punishments as our history shows and we are proud of their great achievements and gloat over it do not we?
Sylvia Haik / September 24, 2015
Colin, we do not have the right to extinguish the life of another, be it animal or, perish the thought, human. Firstly, it is not a deterrent to any cri9me and secondly, it is a final act that we cannot rectify if a mistake had been made. The records show, in USA alone, in the last 10 years more than 308 prisoners in Death Row have been released when proved innocent with modern DNA evidence. For murder or rape, a far more apt punishment would be a life sentence with no possibility of parole. The State murder that you advocate is more a revenge than a punishment.
colin / September 25, 2015
Sylvia its not revenge that I call for but JUSTICE. If anyone takes a life of an innocent or for that matter any human being and then you pay back by giving up your life. The victim had a right to live but the murderer took away that right by killing him so in turn he or she has to give up his life at the gallows. The victim could be a daughter or a son or a father or mother or a sister or a brother or a grandmother or a grandfather in as much as you or me could be one of this category. The victims dependents too will undergo the trauma and suffering in as much as you or me would have undergone (God forbid it ever happens)if we were a dependent. So its Justice I call for and not revenge and only if Justice prevails will we have the peace and tranquility that we all humans long for
Enoka / September 24, 2015
I agree with you Colin. Those who have never experienced such ghastly crimes as rape murder,robbery etc, are the ones who oppose capital punishment.
Native Vedda / September 25, 2015
Are you talking to yourself or to those who are sharing this forum. We all have had our share of ghastly experiences.
Yet we will not join you in your madness of seeking revenge.
You ought to calm yourself down.
Let us reverse the role, if you or family member commit a ghastly crime would you ask the judge to sentence you or your kith and kin to death?
Everyone is capable of committing crimes.
Justice & Fairplay / September 24, 2015
There has been enough evidence to show that we cannot place our entire trust in the Police, our prosecutors, our judges, our defense lawyers, our courts and our public itself (from whom juries are drawn) to be certain that arrests, prosecutions and convictions will not be influenced by political interference, inefficiency or plain corruption. In fact, because we have slipped up so much on all fronts, we can no longer trust any of the Institutions that are supposed to function impartially, effectively and efficiently.
This latest hue and cry is typical bluster and chest thumping from emotional men and women who unwittingly are putting up a smoke screen to hide the core issue at hand. And that is the decline in civic consciousness in our society, the lack of fear through the advancement of impunity, l the lack of shame and awareness of the unacceptable. In a society where anything goes, ‘hanging’ would be the ideal tool for a despotic President to have, to eliminate all his detractors and political enemies without white vans or abductors, underworld thugs and gangs.
The fact is, we are a far cry from being a mature, civilized society. We are easily led (or rather, easily misled), and have limited ability to think for ourselves in an unemotional, rational, and objective way. Barring a few, there are no professionals even amongst the professionals anymore. The good are receding at the rate of knots as evil takes centre stage. Therefore until we establish once again the concept of setting the right precedent by example, we will flounder, we will mess, and we will be taken advantage of by a lot of scheming minds (be they here or abroad). The task before those who govern us – therefore – may be a lot more daunting than everyone thinks. The truth is that there are no short cuts to get to where we once were some 40 odd years ago. It has been downhill all this time since then, and merely to get back, would take twice as long. To come down a hill is faster than climbing.
Vanguard / September 24, 2015
I understand the concern that an innocent person may be sentenced to death.
However if there is evidence beyond doubt, and the person committed the murder knowingly and wilfully (see the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby on national television in the USA in 1965) then this does not apply.
We all live under a social contract to abide by certain laws, and accept the punishment if we break them. In a country with a death penalty in effect, anyone knowingly commits a murder has to accept the consequences of their actions. There is no way out. If there is reasonable doubt, the sentence can be stayed.
I will believe that death is not a deterrent when people stop responding to death threats. The same argument can be made for prisons and traffic fines- if prison was a deterrent then people would not committ theft, so let’s do away with prisons and traffic fines, we have some fine highways to speed on now.
Once again we have to as a nation think for ourselves and respond to the requests of our people rather than pandering to the ideas foisted on us by other nations that have lost their religions and its morals.
For those whome the death penalty is a deterrent, removing the deterrent of the death penalty may result in more murders being committed in the future. The morality of such an action is also questionable.
Bandula / September 24, 2015
It is well and good for the high and mighty living with maximum security to preach to us commoners that death penalty is not the answer for brutal murder or child rape or mass killing by hired killers or death penalty distracts from the real need and is counter productive. This may be the case where murders happen in affluent families. The kids of these rich families when neglected due to the parents been too busy with their lives and social activities turns towards various nefarious activities. They get involved in consuming of drugs, acts of sexual fantasies and finally could end up getting involved in petty crime or revenge crimes culminating in rape or murder. So there’s no wonder why the rich and affluent do not want death penalty because whatever their off springs do they cannot be abandoned as the parents too has to share the blame. So if Capital Punishment is brought back they fear that even their loved one’s to will have to face the music.
On the other hand today the some of the middle class and poor society has to carry out their lives in fear due to the acts of few criminals and drug addicts looking for carnal pleasure, easy money or satisfying their perverted habits. Dr Savithri’s solution is ‘improving the criminal justice system – better crime prevention, better crime detection, better investigation, improved prosecutions and trial procedures’. On the other hand shes says ‘the true incentive to crime is that perpetrators feel that they can get away with it. The real deterrent is the likelihood that one will be found out, arrested, tried, convicted and punished’.
I would like to ask these preachers of right to live, what is the deterrent if a murderer knows that when he is caught he will be sent to prison, may be for life, but fed with all three meals provided with roof over his head and at tax payers money and let out into the society with good behavior inside the prison. Many of these killers and rapists who were benefited with life due to preaching of the ‘ No to Death Penalty’ people for the last forty years have come back and happily committed the same dastardly acts to go through the same rehabilitation cycle.
You have for the past forty years preaching from the high altar allowed these rapists and murderers to pollute the common society which you are not a part of. Either because of the fear of one or two of your off springs facing the same consequences as others you have let these murderers roam free in the society killing and raping innocent families and children. If you are living on the ground without looking through tinted glasses you would have heard of mass murdering of families for property, contract killing to cover up illicit activities, brutal rape and murder of children, etc very frequently in this so called peaceful blessed with multi religions.
I would like to make an earnest appeal to these members of learned Friday forum, goodhearted buddhist and christian citizens, to let the Government bring in Death Penalty at least for one year and see the effect it will have on the crime rate. What we have to do is not stopping the capital punishment but to make sure that people sent to gallows are the true convicts and if there is any doubt of the guiltiness to spare their lives. If death by hanging is considered to be barbaric, recommend the use of lethal injection or electric chair. Do not go on the one sided blind belief that ‘man has no right to take away what god has created’, because this too should also apply to the criminal and the victims.
Please for God’s sake let the Death Penalty come back and give it a chance to cleanse up this society. The most important thing any person love is to live and the biggest fear is death. So the biggest deterrent for murder is fear of death for the murderer.
vichara / September 24, 2015
It is the Friday Forum which is distracting fr
the urgent need to implement the Death Sentence which is provided for in our legal system. It is agrees that there are many things that can be done to improve the prevention of crime and expedition of justice. The blame for the current problems in the system must be accepted by the legal fraternity including the judges.
The main concern in implementing the death sentence is that due to inherent defects in the system some innocent person could be hanged.It is pertinent to ask from the Forum the percentage of convicted persons who have been found not guilty on appeal.
On the excuse that death penalty does not reduce crime, one should compare the prevalence of drug related offenses in countries like Malaysia and Singapore where the penalty for such offenses is the death sentence, which is promptly carried out, with the number of such offenses in Sri Lanka.
Mention of the abolition of the death sentence in the Buddhist regime of Bhutan is a red herring. The country has less than a million population and the general crime rate is low.
Namarzie / September 24, 2015
As these learned people say assume we put everything right and what. What is the punishment for a heinous crime. Try to rehabilitate these sicos wasting tax payers money. These intellectual reasoning and theorising is getting us no where.Do not waste more time, Execute the offenders and let it be the deterent.
maalumiris / September 24, 2015
Wow ! So many proponents of Free Society and Good Governance are so eager to have their fellow-travellers killed.
What bloodthirsty times we live in !
Have we become so dehumanised so soon ?
AshyD / September 25, 2015
Quote from Prof.Savithri Goonesekere”s first paragraph : “The real deterrent is the likelihood that one will be found out, arrested, tried, convicted and punished”.
This is exactly what the people are asking today. Appropriate punishment to be meted out to the perpetrators of grave crime. Rape, child rape and premeditated murder are grave crimes in any society. Dangling the DEATH SENTENCE would give second thoughts to criminals before they indulge in these crimes.
Carrying out the sentences promptly will give a message to rapists and murderers that they are destined to die when they commit a crime.
Pro. Goonesekera’s other assessment that some innocents could be inadvertently hanged for crimes that they did not commit, we may have to see this as COLLATERAL damage, for the betterment of the larger interests of society.
The prosecution of a war against TERRORISTS, is a good example.
When terrorist targets are bombed, it is not only terrorists that are killed, but some innocents too. It is an accepted universal acknowledgement that in instances like such COLLATERAL deaths are acceptable. This is happening today in every country.
Amumiris / September 25, 2015
I would like to tell maalumiris that we are not fellow travelers with rapists and murderers.
Is he so concerned about meeting out justice to these horrible anti social elements because he too is a fellow traveller of that kind.
Is he suggesting that raping and killing is a more human thing than punishing these killers.
As he himself says what times are we living in.