Hang that move
Posted on July 11th, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island


President Maithripala Sirisena has had a sudden urge to hang drug dealers on death row. He seems unable to resist his impulses, which are legion. It was only the other day that he caused fuel price hikes to be put on hold. Then, the Cabinet implemented the price increases and he acquiesced, trotting out some excuses. He seems to think only after leaping. He announced a ban on glyphosate and asbestos and then made a volte-face. Another example of his fickle behaviour was his change of heart anent the Chinese-funded projects, which he and his yahapalana allies undertook to scrap. So, the death row prisoners can rest assured that they will never be hanged on President Sirisena’s watch.

Ruses, damned ruses and yahapalana pronouncements. President Sirisena’s move, reportedly sanctioned by the Cabinet on Tuesday, to carry out judicial executions, selectively, smacks of a diversionary tactic. The government has incurred public opprobrium over its unfulfilled promises, draconian tax laws, corruption, abuse of power, the increasing high crime rate, fuel price hikes, the soaring cost of living etc. Water tariff increases are also said to be in the pipeline. Now, the focus of the public will be shifted to the issue of judicial hangings. Civil society big guns will let out howls of protests and even take to the streets, and all other issues will get eclipsed.

The number of death row prisoners keeps increasing and this, certainly, is an intractable problem, which successive governments have chosen to ignore. There have been several protests in prisons, where the convicts, condemned to death, demanded that they be either sent to the gallows or given formal life sentences. The problem remains unsolved.

Some big-time underworld figures on death row operate their crime syndicates via mobile phones. A suspect arrested with a massive haul of heroin, the other day, was working for a drug baron who is currently in jail. If the government thinks it can solve problems through judicial executions then, first of all, it ought to hang the corrupt prison officials who have sold their souls to criminals.

Law-abiding citizens are so resentful owing to the rise of the netherworld of crime and drugs that they want all criminals hanged. Drug addiction is prevalent even among students and underworld elements have the ability to strike anywhere at will. Not even policemen are safe. Desperate situations are said to call for desperate measures. The country has come to this sorry pass because successive governments have not cared to restore the rule of law and take action to neutralise the underworld. Instead, they have used underworld figures to do political work for them.

Curiously, the government is toying with the idea of resuming judicial executions in spite of Sri Lanka’s assurance to the UN and the EU that the death sentence will not be implemented. The EU has declared that the universal abolition of the death penalty is one of the key priorities of its human rights external policy. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the UN and the EU to the yahapalana attempt to resume juridical executions.

What is urgently needed is action to ensure effective crime prevention, combat crime efficiently and improve the conviction rate, which remains as low as four per cent mostly due to serious lapses on the part of the law enforcement authorities and allied institutions. The police must be provided with adequate resources and training to face emerging new threats. Hanging is no substitute for such measures.

One Response to “Hang that move”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    This is another farce by My3.

    Lets wait and see what happens.

    “..the death row prisoners can rest assured that they will never be hanged on President Sirisena’s watch”

    Well said!!

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