26 May, 2022

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Death Sentence For Prison Official Emil Ranjan: Anti-Death Penalty Group Condemns Sentence, Seeks Action On Prison Conditions

Human Rights organizations have condemned Sri Lanka’s ongoing use of the death penalty after a prison official was sentenced to death on January 12. Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), Capital Punishment Justice Project, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), Eleos Justice, Monash University and Human Rights Watch said that the conviction appeared to be an attempt to avoid addressing the events and dire prison conditions that led to the 2012 incident in which 27 prisoners were killed and about 50 injured at Welikada Prison in Colombo.

On 12 January 2022, the Colombo High Court Special Trial-at-Bar sentenced former Welikada Magazine Prison Superintendent Emil Ranjan Lamahewage to death. Lamahewage was sentenced in relation to the 2012 Welikada Prison incident in which 27 prisoners were killed and approximately 50 were injured. In 2015 a Committee of Inquiry recommended charging a number of senior officials. Ultimately, only two prison officials were charged and only Lamahewage was convicted.

The undersigned strongly condemn the ongoing use of the death penalty in Sri Lanka. Whilst Sri Lanka has observed a de facto moratorium on executions since 1976, 1,284 people remained on death row as of September 2020. Despite the long-standing moratorium, the courts continue to impose the death sentence in relation to 22 capital offences.

Prison conditions for prisoners on death row in Sri Lanka are particularly harsh; the 2020 Prison Study by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka describes the living conditions as “appalling and poor”, detailing testimony of those living on death row in conditions with severe overcrowding, poor sanitation, very limited access to health care, and being locked in cells for 23 hours a day. These conditions contravene the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).

Whilst on the surface, the conviction and sentencing of Lamahewage appears to be holding one prison official to account, scapegoating by sentencing one individual to death does nothing to address the very real concerns regarding the events that led to the 2012 Welikada Prison incident. Holding those responsible to account is an important step towards justice for victims and survivors of the Welikada Prison incident. That said, the imposition of the death penalty does not achieve this and is never an appropriate way to administer justice.

Using the death penalty, a form of state-sanctioned killing, as a punishment for someone convicted of state-enabled killing, highlights the absurdity of the state being empowered to take the lives of individuals. Activists within Sri Lanka have highlighted the need for urgent, fundamental reform of the criminal justice system with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration to meaningfully address the severe overcrowding and poor prison conditions.

The signatories call for the Government of Sri Lanka to formalise its de facto moratorium and abolish the death penalty. In the interim, all options should be explored for those sentenced to death, including individualized resentencing, taking into consideration each incarcerated person’s mitigating circumstances, the weight of the evidence presented at trial, and the lengthy sentences of imprisonment many have already served, in very difficult conditions.

Consideration should be given to early release options including commutation of sentences, based on the circumstances of each case, including injustices they may have experienced due to structural and systemic factors. Additionally, the issues outlined in relation to the current conditions on death row must be urgently remedied with adequate resourcing and facilities.

Signed:

Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)
Capital Punishment Justice Project
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Eleos Justice, Monash University
Human Rights Watch

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    CT readers

    ” Maithripala Sirisena said capital punishment was being reinstated to clamp down on the drugs trade in Sri Lanka.” BBC 29 June 2019. On the other hand he pardoned a murderer and let him free on flimsy excuses.

    Gota wanted to hang Fonseka after committing “”””Alleged”””” Genocide.

    UNP committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    So did SLFP.

    JVP and LTTE were no strangers to capital punishment nor war.

    Only when it suits the ruler who choses between capital punishment or let the criminals go scot-free.

    • 13
      2

      NV/

      LEADERS got elected by stupid masses are the champions of high crimes/ but so long yellow pets are made to paint the other way around about the criminals/ they can survive their politics in my home country/ just allegedly to have partied while all others were confined to a lock down brites demand the resignation of Their premier/ Johnson/ our men though looted the state ( story of 102ctons of printed materials were air lifted to Uganda lately) as no worse can be the case let ruin our country today/beyond bearing 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔😉🤔😉

      • 10
        0

        I like to see all the Rajapakses dead bodies scattered in the prison yard like this …….. what happened to Nicolae Ceaușescu and wife ………….

        Then and only then, there will be peace, prosperity ………… and vistas of splendour in Lanka

        And I’m a pacifist ……….perhaps the only one still standing ……………

        • 3
          0

          This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

          For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

        • 4
          0

          Dear NF,

          PICTURE is cruel, to everyone s eye, but not to the eyes of RAJAPAKSEHS. SRILANKA is a gold mine for them, but it is becoming a hell to the average day by day.
          :
          And this is common in a country where the MAJORITY is tamed by ” fake public perception again and again” by their main stream media.

          I have several questions to you and other info-sensitive souls on CT@
          .
          Why is that not much known what GOTA-BAYA had been doing in AMERICA during the entire period of 15 long years ?

          His reigncarnation as a NEO-PATRIOT was declared after his brother became the president of the country in 2005.
          .
          Do all what srilanken MAIN STREAM media sow in the country ” GOTABAYA to be given the credit on terror elemination in the country” in compliance with the facts based on the so called ” war victory” ? or a myth similar to ” MAHINDA gave the leadership to eleminate the terror” ?

          What should be the role of so called investigative journos (if they are available in srilanka) that constantly bring breaking news about any silly acts being done by Rajapakshes today ?

          Sirasa TV channel is doing some good work, but that is not even 10%… about facts based informaton.

          People in our motherland are treated by them like all the last fools of the earth
          .
          This is sad but do the people (i mean the average ) notice it yet today ?

        • 2
          0

          nimal fernando

          “I like to see all the Rajapakses dead bodies scattered in the prison yard like this …….. what happened to Nicolae Ceaușescu and wife ………….”

          I sometimes wonder whether Gota and his goons have planted their “agent provocateur” in this forum.

          Take care.

      • 7
        0

        I was shocked yestreday being unable to believe my eyes, looking at the manner how our Nandasena continues with his of clean talks again while all is made upside down since the known devils dragged the power on to their hand.
        .
        Is it right to see him in a suit in that position anymore ? As no other leaders sofar, what his govt deliberately made to this country is beyond all ethics and morals. Elderly people in thousands let fall dead by COVID, just because the animals never respected WHO guidlines. Guidlines were clear to everyone except stupid/inhuman leaders.
        .
        අධිකරණය මුළුමනින්ම තනි පවුලක් විසින් පාලනය කරන රටක්, එහි ජනතාවට යුක්තිය ඉටුවීම ගැන බලාපොරොත්තුවක් තබා ගත හැක්කේ කෙසේද?

        நீதித்துறை முழுவதுமாக ஒரே குடும்பத்தால் கட்டுப்படுத்தப்படும் ஒரு நாட்டில், நீதி வழங்கப்படுவதைப் பற்றிய நம்பிக்கையை அதன் மக்கள் எப்படிக் கொண்டிருக்க முடியும்?

        a country where judiciary is totally controlled by one single family, how can its people ever have any glimmer of hope about being served with justice ?

    • 3
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      nimal fernando

      I can’t understand how you tolerate those who advocate capital punishment and execute people.
      Can you please explain?

    • 1
      5

      Native Vedda,
      “Only when it suits the ruler who choses between capital punishment or let the criminals go scot-free.”

      You are right. That is why hundreds of LTTE Tamil terrorists who committed crimes against Sinhala Buddhists managed to go scot-free.

      • 3
        0

        Eagle Dumbo Eye

        “You are right.”

        Mostly I am right.
        You unusually got that part right.

        “That is why hundreds of LTTE Tamil terrorists who committed crimes against Sinhala Buddhists managed to go scot-free.”

        Dumbo, none of them were charged with any crimes at the “Gota’s court of law”. Until they are proven guilty they remain innocent.

        Just because your dumb-ass army rounded up innocent civilians (those who were lucky to remain alive even after wholesale butchery) does it make them LTTE Tamil Terrorists?

        Pull your head wherever it is now you can see, think and type clearly.

    • 5
      1

      Native, A guy who murdered many including children , found guilty and sentenced to death by courts was pardoned by none other than President and now this person is sentenced to death for alleged killings. Lanka special “low and odor” based on SB.

    • 0
      0

      Now an innocient doctor is against persecuted by a bunch of thugs to build up another story – similar to Dr Safi s or the like.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8OzUUs-Pzc

      Let s wait, how Nandasena would end up in the next days to come.

      • 0
        0

        now an innocient doctor is again caught by a ….

  • 11
    1

    There were witnesses who confirmed that an army official had a list of names calling it “Gota’s list” and it was the Senior Police Official who removed those in the list to another location, so why is this Police official not punished?

    There is another important point that has not got the focus that it should. Most of those who were killed were either thugs who murder others or drug-related offenders. So why should their names be in a Gota’s list?

    • 3
      0

      the terrorist war criminal Gota was just killing the evidence of his tools for mass murders of beggar sinhalas. In any event Good Riddance as these criminals are of the the buddhist ilk that killed tamil political prisoners are even in their buddhist action manifestations GOURGED OUT EYES of tamil political prisoners and then further brutalised and killed these tamils.

    • 3
      0

      Yes Buddhist 1 , there were two extensive articles here in CT, on prison killings based on
      actual eye witnesses who were present at the time. To answer to your question, what if some of those criminals were used by then government for their own criminal activities, kidnapping, ransom, political killings, and later turned to be a potential threat, to their long term political future.

  • 10
    1

    Looks like this chap is a fall guy to me. Did he actually shoot prisoners or gave the order?

    As for the death sentence, isn’t this country proudly Buddhist? Buddhism teaches compassion & even a mass murderer, Angulimala, was pardoned, so are we governed by Buddhist principals? Ignorance or hypocrisy? I suppose releasing convicted murderers like Duminda Silva & the Army sergeant who slit the throats of children, deserve to be pardoned in line with Buddhist principals but not others.

  • 12
    0

    These convictions and sentencing are mere stage performances in a poor, tribal, backward country where there is no real justice for the aggrieved and victims are punished. The police often kill difficult to trap criminals and those cases are closed, with the usual explanation of another party ambush or attempted escape etc. On the other hand, state leaders release anyone they wish, from prison, regardless of the severity of their offence or conviction, as loyalty and big money seem paramount and not the welfare of the people at large. All these are markers of a failing state that can result in anarchy and mayhem.

  • 2
    0

    Is he a Tamil? Even otherwise killing or murdering is not a crime. Then how terrible murderers are released from prisons and given top positions. How about the guys who executed 83 murders. All know who was beyhind but nothing happened. One Country and Different Laws. Bloody Joke.

  • 5
    0

    Lasantha not to forget, the inebriated minister who walked into prison and held inmates on gun point is still free and remains a minister.

  • 4
    0

    Talking about Lanka’s special low and odor. 1) How credible (stupid ???) our police force and minister in charge SW,who claimed Lankans are out to spoil Gotha’s name (as though he hasn’t done enough) by placing explosives in churches, hospital and other public places. Funny indeed , when there are other ways why go to this extend ?? 2) Few days ago SW claimed the custodian of the church who have been there for more than 15 years is the culprit, who not only identified but immediately notified the church authority of an explosive. The evidence provided by police is that, a match box carried by accused was missing some sticks, which they believe was used for the locally made bomb. How is that for an evidence ?? case closed. Question is then who placed explosive in hospital and other public places. 3) Have terrorist organizations run out of ideas and explosives,so much so they now settled for locally made bomb and matches to ignite.?? 4) In the mean time there is CCTV recording showing a person limping in and placing the object and then bolting out in a hurry with no limp. When confronted SW told media “time is precious and he did not want to waste any in looking at the CCTV recording”.

    • 2
      0

      OMG, after care taker saga , now it is Dr. Oshala Herath turn. (son of retired Doctor who was arrested in connection with the recovery of explosive in church). See the media briefing given by the doctor. This time the police forcibly took the CCTV footage with them, to avoid any embarrassment as in care taker case.

      • 2
        0

        Chiv,
        Is this not similar to -Dr Safi#s tale.? made to twist the mind set of the grass eaters

        People are so stupid that they can not move an inch by convincing the facts. .
        .

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