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Sunday September 19th, 2021
Human Rights

Duminda pardon: Slain former Sri Lanka MP’s family reluctant to go to int’l community

Former MP Duminda Silva – Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT – Slain former Sri Lanka MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s family has expressed reluctance to take the matter of the controversial presidential pardon granted to murder convict Duminda Silva before the international community.

Premachandran’s widow Sumana Premachandra  told reporters Friday (02) that the family does not wish to hurt Sri Lanka’s standing in the world which has already taken a beating over a number of issues.

“We have been thinking about it. Sri Lanka is becoming unpopular in the international community for various reasons. If we take this issue before them, it will further affect things like GSP Plus and foreign loans,” she said.

The European parliament adopted a resolution on June 10 calling for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and inviting the European Union (EU) Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing Sri Lanka’s access to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) concession.

Related: EU parliament adopts resolution on Sri Lanka; wants PTA repealed, GSP+ withdrawn

International organisations have criticised the move. The United Nations Human Rights Commission said Silva’s pardon is another example of selective, arbitrary granting of pardons that weakens rule of law and undermines accountability.

The Human Rights Watch said on June 29 that Silva’s release highlights the need for genuine rule of law in Sri Lanka.

Mrs Premachandra said since the release of Silva, civil society activists, human rights groups and friends from Sri Lanka and abroad have been asking the family about their next step.

“It is the poor people in the country who will have to face the consequences. Not the president or those dreaming about becoming president or the Rajapaksa royal (raja) family,” said Premachandra.

However, the family has yet to arrive at a final decision, she said.

Silva’s release could also pose a threat to the lives of her family, said Premachandra.

“If any harm comes on any of us, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be responsible for it,” she said.

Premachandra said that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and her daughter former MP Hirunika Premachandra have written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa seeking an explanation on the legal basis of Silva’s pardon.

“The president has not responded to either of the letters. I hope he’ll at least respond to the BASL,” she said.

Related: Duminda’s pardon may be arbitrary if certain provisos unsatisfied: Sri Lanka Bar Associaiton

Silva was released from prison on a “special presidential pardon” on June 24. The former MP, along with two others, was sentenced to death over the murder of Premachandra that occurred in 2011. Silva’s release from prison had been speculated since the change of government in 2019, though no such move had been initiated until last month. (Colombo/July02/2021)

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