You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

President Sirisena accuses EU of undermining Sri Lanka's sovereignty

Topics
Social Issues

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday accused the European Union of challenging Sri Lanka's sovereignty by threatening with tariffs if capital punishment is re-introduced in the country after 43 years.

Last week, President Sirisena signed the death warrants to hang four drug convicts, ending a four-decade-long moratorium on the capital punishment in the country.

Addressing the National Drug Prevention Day event here, Sirisena underlined the importance of his campaign to combat the drug related crimes in the island nation.

The President said that the 28-member European Union bloc has threatened to withdraw the EU GSP Plus trade concession if Sri Lanka implements the death penalty.

"This is a threat on our sovereignty," Sirisena said referring to the EU comments that Sri Lanka's GSP+ trade facility which was restored after 2015 when Sirisena became the president could be under threat if Sri Lanka hanged people.

"I openly say that what the EU is saying is a threat, They should not issue threats to independent countries. They can not interfere in our sovereignty," Sirisena said.

Sirisena's decision has come in spite of Sri Lanka supporting the UN moratorium on the death penalty.

He said he had signed four death warrants on drug convicts who are currently in jail condemned to death. Their sentences have been commuted to life terms as all Sri Lankan presidents since 1978 refused to sign death warrants. He did not announce a date for the hanging to take place.

Sirisena also slammed the Government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Opposition for opposing implementing the death penalty on serious offenders of illegal drug trafficking.

He said that countries like the US and China implement the death penalty.

The last hanging in Sri Lanka took place in June 1976 when Siripala alias Maru Sira, a noted criminal was hanged for murder. The country's last hangman quit in 2014 without ever having to execute anyone, citing stress after seeing the gallows for the first time. Another hired last year never turned up for work.

Justice Ministry in March said there were over 450 prisoners in Sri Lankan jails, including five women. Out of that at least 48 are drug convicts. While 30 of them had appealed against their death sentence, 18 of them could be hanged, officials said.

Sirisena has said that he would sign the death warrants only for drug convicts.

The EU's GSP+ facility which gave Sri Lanka's exports to the EU preferred tax status was suspended in 2008 when Sri Lanka's human rights record came to be questioned under Sirisena's predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime.

After Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa as the then Opposition's common challenger the GSP+ facility came to be restored as a goodwill measure towards the new government.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Mon, July 01 2019. 17:15 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU