16 April, 2024


President Strident & Adamant

By Nishthar Idroos

Nishthar Idroos

President Maithripala Sirisena sounds adamant and seems to have taken a couple strides towards making capital punishment law in the country. Has been talking quite extensively about reintroducing capital punishment. Is this the right way forward? Atleast is it the correct way of arriving at critical and important decisions? In spasms? Upon arriving after an official visit from another country which had adopted drastic measures to combat the menace the President is on high octane.

An ardent adherent now of the splashy Philippine president Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The man who led thousands of extrajudicial killings in that country. There appears to be some kind of a public outcry in the predominantly Buddhist country to the idea of lifting the 43 year old moratorium on capital punishment. In the same breath it must be stated drug related crime is also in the increase.

Shootings, blood meandering over macadamized asphalts, dead bodies lying still are no longer scenes exclusive to South America. It’s becoming very common in Sri Lanka as well. Funerals of youth extremely sad events. Both victims of abuse and victims of gang violence. Sites of bereaved inconsolably sobbing quite unbearable. Families often unaware of victim’s involvement in the nefarious activity until the dreaded knock on the door or phone call.

The idea of capital punishment had come up for national discourse many times before but there was no political will to go through with it. Are we getting ready for another stint of pure, unalloyed  drama in technologically loaded, ambience laden, colorfully lit theatres to appease  constituencies in an election year or is it genuine, sincere outpouring against the devastation drugs have caused in contemporary Sri Lanka? An action is certainly decided by its intention. 

At present lack of clarity looms and ambiguity rules. It’s just the emperor strutting and fretting like an uncertain protagonist, justifiably consumed. Sputtering incoherently as if in a quandary laden soliloquy usually captured in medieval thespian art. 

Sarcophagus politics such a potent weapon for Sri Lankan politics and politicians. They use it quite regularly and to good effect too with meticulous usage of calculus. Their wizardry and mastery second to none. Would exhume a body or preserve a fugitive languishing within or peregrinating the world indefinitely until dominion and some semblance of immunity is achieved. This is the newly visible classic of Sri Lankan politics quite antithetical to all norms of decency and democracy.

Public cynicism on the issue contagious. It was Martin Luther King who famously said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. If by way of re-introducing capital punishment some political mileage or any other political benefit is soughted let’s put a stop right away. On the contrary if it’s genuine let’s do it with courage and conviction. What’s at stake are human lives.

Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. At the time, prisoners were hanged. The media speculates if presidential decree is granted Sri Lanka will start executing prisoners with drug trafficking convictions who are on death row. Local media estimates there are just under 1,500 people in prison facing face death sentences and 48 of them have been convicted of drug offences. Only 18 of those convicted of death penalty eligible drug offences are on death row because the remaining 30 have appealed their sentences.

A March 2018 report by Harm Reduction International says “There are at least 33 countries and territories that prescribe the death penalty for drug offences in law. Capital punishment is the practice of executing individuals as punishment for a specific crime after a proper legal trial. The key is to have a free and fair trial. China executes most people per year overall, with an estimated figure of 1,718 in 2008. Amnesty International also states that in 2008 Iran executed at least 346 people, the USA 111, Saudi Arabia 102 and Pakistan 36. 

Sale of drugs in Saudi Arabia a predominantly Muslim country almost always results in the death penalty. Judicial system not inclined to make exceptions. Alcohol use too is illegal there. Possession or use of alcohol can be punished by public flogging, fines, lengthy imprisonment. In Vietnam and Thailand where there is a strong Buddhist tradition, drug crimes are taken very seriously. If you are arrested with more than 1.3 pounds of heroin in Vietnam, you will automatically executed. In Thailand, those trafficking narcotics may be put to death and drug users frequently sentenced to mandatory rehab. The Philippines a Christian country all over the news at present has initiated a rather strong response with   graphic consequences.

Donald Trump too has been upping the rhetoric. “We’re wasting our time if we don’t get tough with drug dealers, and that toughness includes the death penalty,” said Trump in typically combative style. He also added: “The ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty. Maybe our country is not ready for that, it’s possible, it’s possible.” Trump said “personally I can’t understand that” about those opposed to such drastic measures.

Time is most opportune to take the right decision. A bi-partisan approach is the best. Its precious human lives we are talking about.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Enforcing death is uncivilized. It is better to utilize these criminals for constructions of roads, buildings, clearing garbage, cleaning places of worship, etc as labourers. Government can save a lot of money instead of spending on them. We should remember that Sri Lanka is a country where non-ciolence is preached, though some religious dignitaries resort to violent methods.

    • 1

      Ayathuray Rajasingam:

      “Enforcing death is uncivilized. It is better to utilize these criminals for constructions of roads, buildings, clearing garbage, cleaning places of worship, etc as labourers”

      Here we talk about death-row criminals who continue to do the criminal activities within their cells as per Police Department. You are right in the case of petty thieves who stole piece of bread for hunger. SL won’t give capital punishments for those anyway :-)

    • 1

      These drug lords are very wealthy. They can buy any one. The best thing is to slaughter them and finish. There the rights of the society that comes forward.

  • 2

    Nishthar Idroos,

    “A bi-partisan approach is the best. Its precious human lives we are talking about” – When the same happens in Muslim countries through Sharia Law, you support it and do not see the preciousness of human-lives?

    Here we are talking about animals with 6th sense that care nothing about destroying innocent lives that get rejected and looked at as petty thieves among own families, shattered dreams of innocent parents, wives and children.

    Now even worse, these animals have started trading drugs among schools and school students to a level the parents have no peace in their minds. See the how a community, society and a country is destroyed just because these animals want to make money, see their own kids ride in luxury cars while other kids get rejected in the society…Go to rehab centers and see the plight..

    Look at this from a parent’s point. As a side note, these days mostly Muslim involve in this. Since MMDA is a special law for Muslims in SL for marriage/divorce, can we extend it to include Sharia punishment for drug dealing Muslims?

    • 2

      Yes Drug is dangerous and it destroys the community, society and country. But drug is not the only reason for the destruction of the community, society and country. Drug problem which includes, drug production, illegal transportation, drug users and regulations all contribute to the problem. The fundamental problem in our country is our political and religious leadership. If the leadership is right the people will follow will become right the country will become right. Look at our political leader who is now wants to bring capital punishment for drug related crimes. This is the man who lied acted illegally to the constitution that he brought in. He is the one who supported bribing of MPs. If you look at the case of Madusha and other 20who was arrested for drug transport in Dubai was in Srilanka for many years with the support political leadership. The political leadership and religious leadership never wanted the law at act against those criminals who attacked Muslim Mosques. They do not want to find the truth about THajavudin murder or Lasantha murder or Pirabhaharan’s son murder or the murder of those who surrendered in 2009. We shold have a system that is common to all and we should trust in our leadership that they will honour what they say.

  • 1

    Nishthar Idroos know very well the injustice here. He does not blame his religeon instead he blames the president. You know more than that but you have a family so you have to lie.

  • 1

    The war on drugs is a waste of time and money!

    In the US it has been very expensive and a catastrophic failure. It has created a black market for the stuff, and this in turn has created violent gangs and rivalries, with millions being caught in the cross-fire.

    It has created a drug user base that is vilified and have to resort to poor quality product which are often mixed with toxins that do worse harm than the drugs themselves.

    Overall it is an utter and complete mess, and no end is in sight for that war. Only politicians benefit from the commissions they make in the ‘drug war’.

    What goes on in Philippines will not end well for them. If history is any guide the drug problem will just be worsened under Duterte.

    Consider nations where drugs are tolerated like in the Netherlands. There is no violence. Drugs are easily purchasable. Due to this ease of purchase market competition yields the best quality product at the lowest prices and products with toxins don’t survive. Users are well informed of dangers (and also of benefits) and abuse is thus minimized.

    Sirisena is just playing politics. There is no genuine motives behind his drug war except to somehow win votes. No good will come out of this scheme.

    As counter intuitive as it might seem history is against this type of war. If we value human lives we should be against Sirisena’s war on drugs.

  • 5

    Most CROOKS are Strident & Adamant and need to be to get on with their jobs.. Look at Mahintha he is is a THUG and cunning. He ( I dont know how) manged to get his son with a metal plate in his brain to marry a Tamil. She must have been so desperate to marry a killer ( of Thajudin) . She has brought dishonour to all the Tamil Victims and insulted them. I hope she has a consciounce and will live to regrett. Shame on her .

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