26 June, 2019

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The Death Penalty: Is The Price Of Sri Lanka’s Sovereignty USD 350 Milloin?

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

President Sirisena’s announcement of his intention of implementing the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers has become the latest hot topic in the capital.

Capital punishment has not been carried out in the country since 1976, and those handed the death sentence have been routinely commuted to life imprisonment.     

Protests are loudest from Human Rights groups followed by some civil society and religious groups.

The latest group to object is the European Union (EU). Their objections have been jointly communicated to President Sirisena by their ambassadors in Colombo. 

It has been reported, EU has threatened to withdraw the Generalized Scheme of Preference (GSP+) facility in the event of Sri Lanka implementing capital punishment. 

Over fifty countries in the world including the USA (in 31 out of 50 states), China, Japan, and India retain capital punishment.

According to an Amnesty International report, China executed more people than the rest of the world combined last year for a range of offenses including murder and corruption.

Japan, on July 06, executed the former leader of a doomsday cult and six other members of the group that carried out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 13 commuters.

A total of twenty-six executions have taken place in India since 1991, the most recent being in 2015. The lone surviving gunman from the three-day attack on Mumbai in November 2008 was hanged in 2012. The Indian Cabinet, in April, approved the introduction of the death penalty for those convicted of raping children below the age of 12 years.

EU Merchandise Trade, (goods which add or subtract from the stock of material resources of a country by entering / imports or leaving/exports its economic territory) with USA, China, Japan, India and Sri Lanka in 2017 is found in illustration 1.

Illustration 1 Merchandise Trade

value in Euro/billions  

EU Surplus / Deficit

in Euro/billions

EU / USA 632 119
EU / China 573 (176)
EU / Japan 129 (8)
EU / India 86 (2.5)
EU / Sri Lanka 4.4 (1)

source: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/statistics/index_en.htm 

Notwithstanding the moral high ground adopted by EU in the case of Sri Lanka, it has no compunction in benefitting from trading in billions of Euro, despite capital punishment being a legal penalty in USA, China, Japan, and India (besides many others).

Pakistan has sent 465 prisoners to the gallows since the moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014. There is no record of EU Ambassadors in Islamabad registering any opposition, and its GSP+ facility was extended for a further two years in early 2018. 

EU’s objections in the case of Sri Lanka is but the manifestation of abject hypocrisy and another example of country-specific penalization similar to the Geneva Resolution.  

Sri Lanka supposedly derives considerable benefits from GSP+ especially in Food/Raw Materials and Textiles/Clothing. Its total exports, Food/Raw Materials and Textiles/Clothing between 2013 and 2017 are found in illustration 2.

Illustration 2 Sri Lankan Exports

in Euro/billions  

Food/Raw Materials

in Euro/millions

Textile/Raw Materials

In Euro/millions

2013 2.3 330 1,391
2014 2.5 357 1,575
2015 2.6 347 1,715
2016 2.6 374 1,594
2017 2.7 438 1,664

source: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/statistics/index_en.htm

In 2010, EU made the continuation of GSP+ facility conditional to Sri Lanka ratifying 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance. It amounts to subjecting the nation’s political and legal framework to the supervision by EU. The facility was withdrawn due to the refusal by the previous administration to agree to such draconian conditions.

The present administration, having agreed to EU conditions was able to have the facility restored in May 2017. Only at the end of one calendar year would it be possible to evaluate if the expected boom in return for accepting Brussels’ suzerainty has materialized. 

The issue of capital punishment in Sri Lanka is necessarily a matter for its citizens. President Sirisena would no doubt give due consideration to views expressed by different interest groups. The current situation is; if citizens of this country endorse the implementation of the death penalty even through the democratic process of a referendum, it can not be implemented without the concurrence of EU. 

The EU should bear in mind, it is such infringement on the sovereignty of nations which led to Brexit and possibility of a few more members decamping soon. 

The net monetary gain to Sri Lanka from GSP+ is estimated at USD 350 million.

Is the price of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty USD 350 million?

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Latest comments

  • 10
    0

    Rajeewa Jayaweera
    “Is the price of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty USD 350 million?”

    It’s a small price to pay if you want to take a human’s life which is priceless.

  • 2
    0

    The net monetary gain to Sri Lanka from GSP+ is estimated at USD 350 million.

    This guy is lunatic, has no background knowledge in trade and economics, but writing all Blah Blah. First thing is, the bitchy Lankawe should not ask GSP from any country. It had excess money in the trading account in 1950s. Now, it is a beggar International pariah, but extremely loud & foul mouthed, one like empty headed Rajeewa. The Check Ranil lifted to high in the air from China, last November is for 200 years of Hangbangtota Harbor lease was $298 million.
    But EU’s $350M is net profit. A company would be prosperous company if it can annually earning 5%-10% net profit. So the $350M means $3,500,000,000.sales. In Rupee value 560,000,000,000 rupees. If we say 50% of that sales is salary (In fact we can take the whole amount, provided the material locally manufactured) 280,000,000,000 paid to employees. If I say one job is 1 million rupees, it is 280,000 job/year. Probably the guys who got a share from $18B would not mid the $350M. But it is more than 280,000 jobs for Lankaweyans any account and it is big deal.

    • 2
      0

      Rajeewa, did you hear a story going round that Sirisena’s son Daham is a drug addict, and that is the reason why Sirisena wants to execute drug dealers.

  • 6
    1

    Rajeewa Jayaweera

    “Is the price of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty USD 350 million?”

    This is the first time I have seen a person putting a price on sovereignty, or guesstimating its paper value. Doesn’t matter we all do it time to time when we are overwhelmed by our own worth and by inflated ego.

    I have few question for him. We talk about all the time without really knowing it or understanding it. Could Rajeewa explain the following:

    What exactly is sovereignty?
    What makes a sovereignty?
    Can a paper value be put on sovereignty?
    What is the near realistic method of computing its value?
    Is it possible to compare two different country’s paper values of respective sovereignties?
    Is it possible to increase or decrease paper value of sovereignty?
    Like Goodwill of a business can sovereignty be bought and sold?
    What would be the accounting entry on the nation’s books?
    Like goodwill can sovereignty appreciate of depreciate?
    Who is responsible for maintaining its value (central bank, treasury, parliament,…. )?
    Can crooks steal bits and pieces from it and sell it on black or open market?
    How would one stop sovereignty being robbed and sold?
    What is the cost of protecting it?
    ….
    ….
    …..
    ….
    Would foreign countries be interested in stealing it?
    Alright once stolen what would the foreigners do with it?
    Why would they steal it in the first place?

    These are serious questions for those who believe in Sri Lankan sovereignty?
    Those who do not believe in myth of sovereignty can go to bed and have a good night sleep.

    soma, Hela, wannihami, Taraki, Champa, …………….. Wimal, Dayan, ………………………. please ignore nothing you could do to understand and explain the idea of sovereignty.

  • 0
    0

    In my humble opinion the sovereignty of a country is immeasurable and as such the mere reference to a price tag is unthinkable. I, for one, believe in the self-respect of a nation. Even when Indira Gandhi faced humiliation and harassment from the Government after her defeat, she told foreign pressmen that she would fight this within India. Alas! The opposition (including the present lot while in opposition) did internationalize issues at respective times. But can Sri Lanka, the economy of which is in the doldrums, afford to lose exports valuing USD 350 Million? Beggars are not choosers. As long as there is a weak economy, threatened with UN Human rights queries Sri Lanka is unable to exercise its sovereignty with its head up. It is for this reason and many others that the foreign minister at that time, in his wisdom, decided to co¬-sponsor a resolution against Sri Lanka. In any other country the bureaucrats would have refused to carry out the ministerial directive simply because it amounts to treason. Where is the self-respect then when we co-¬sponsored? Beggars are not choosers. Fighting within Sri Lanka, I am informed that the implementation of the death sentence for drug kingpins who are deemed to carry out the nefarious business while under the shadow of gallows is for corrupt motives which I have expressed my views in a previous comment.

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Jayaweera: You should have calculated the imports that we make from EU and tha tincludes Cars, MAchinery. Even with GSP plus, it si their businesses and people who have access to cheap imported goods.EU has double standards.

  • 0
    0

    Dude it is not just EU which is opposing death penalty. Even some of the Lankans, local and international civic bodies are against it. You, very well know that GSP has nothing to do with this stand.But as usual you want to spin the facts and come out as a Pseudo Patriot. Your true intentions are of course to settle scores and your resentment towards these western bodies who are being hurdle to your racist dreams.

  • 0
    0

    Putting a price on ‘sovereignty’ is being emotive. GSP+ in or out our ‘sovereignty’ will be in tact.
    .
    We have reached the stage where corruption/nepotism/impunity are taken as part of governance. This bane will be used by the well connected to keep law at bay. Worse the bane can be used to inflict mafia punishment. What if an innocent person is hung till death?
    .
    MS must suspend his decision till he is able to guarantee that the price of the life of all Lankans will NOT be based on connections.
    PS: If this eventuates there will be no need to have to impose death penalty.

  • 0
    0

    Mr Rajeewa Jayaweera

    You are deviating from the subject of reintroducing the capital punishment. The question, if the sovereignty of SL is influenced by US$ 350m from the EU on a political decision related to human rights, just muddies the water. Economic sanctions are detrimental to a poor country like SL but we can be proud of our sovereignty if we stand by our principals, & in this case, as a proudly acclaimed Buddhist country. If we should be concerned about sovereignty, we should look at the increasing Chinese influence in the country, rather than economic pressure from the EU, related to humanitarian issues in the country.

    Rampant violence, massive corruption & all forms of thuggery & intimidation are due to the break down of law & order. Before SL introduces the death penalty, the integrity of law enforcement & the judicial system should be established, otherwise there will be miscarriage of justice in a large scale. Sirsena is trying to emulate Durate to gain cheap popularity as a tough leader & the average man on the street is not bothered about GST.

    • 1
      0

      Raj
      *
      The core issue of my piece is not the suitability or unsuitability of Death Sentence but the threat by EU. Therefore it is not I but your good self along with several other commentators who are deviating from the subject.
      *
      I have sufficiently clarified in the para ” The issue of capital punishment in Sri Lanka is necessarily a matter for its citizens. President Sirisena would no doubt give due consideration to views expressed by different interest groups. The current situation is; if citizens of this country endorse the implementation of the death penalty even through the democratic process of a referendum, it can not be implemented without the concurrence of EU.”
      *
      The above says it all and in my subjective opinion amounts to the loss of the nation’s sovereignty for the benefit of an annual gain of USD 350 mi (exact figure can only be calculated only at the end of each calendar year).

      • 0
        0

        ‘Sovereignty’ is not subjective. GSP+ out does not mean we are more sovereign than with GSP+ in.
        The right to live is a human right. Violation of this right is murder.
        Death penalty is murder committed by all of us.

  • 1
    0

    Myanmar committed genocide and ethnic cleansing in broad daylight and they still enjoy the GSP plus, in Bangladesh enforce disappearance of opposition politicians is a common occurrence and the law allows for people to be hanged and they also enjoys GSP plus.

    So what is the problem only for Sri Lanka ?

    Sri Lanka shouldn’t bother about the EU, but do what is necessary for the country if it serves its purpose

    • 0
      0

      Concerned citizen ~ “Myanmar committed genocide and ethnic cleansing………enjoy the GSP plus,……”.
      The UN is silently watching the genocide of Rohingyas by the Burmese Junta. Worse UN acknowledges this.
      ~ “……Bangladesh enforce disappearance of opposition politicians……the law allows for people to be hanged and they also enjoys GSP plus”.
      Both your observations are apt.
      .
      But your question ~ “So what is the problem only for Sri Lanka ?”.
      This is suggestive. Surely surely.

  • 0
    0

    Dude I still stand by what I said.You are a racist. EU has nothing to with death penalty.(what about Vatican where all Rajapaksas have payed homage, are they in agreement with death penalty) You just tried to spin to settle old scores.( you issues is pretty much USA,India and few western countries) You have done this in the past and yet trying to reason. You always had issues with countries whom Lanka is heavily depended and received help in winning the war but now a road block for your racial dreams.. But as a proxy to politicians you tend to use and abuse at will. I have never seen you taking up issues with China which is right there for any average citizen to see. Instead you are busy shadow boxing. Get a life buddy.

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