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Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka opp. leader wants death penalty for terrorists, drug traffickers

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s opposition leader Sajith Premadasa wants the death penalty imposed on charges pertaining to terrorism and drug-trafficking, à la Singapore.

“Singapore gives the best penalties for terrorism and drug trafficking. We will not deviate from that position, but the judicial process must be transparent, fair and free of influence,” Premadasa said Wednesday (28) morning.

He was speaking to reporters outside the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Colombo where main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Harin Fernando was being questioned over a speech Fernando had made on the 2019 Easter bombings.

Related: Sri Lanka opposition MP Harin Fernando summoned to CID over Easter attack speech

Rather than punishing proven terrorists, said Premadasa, the government wants to pay for their upkeep with taxpayer money.

“Is this the solution our country has for those proven to have carried out terrorist activities?” he said.

Sri Lanka has an ongoing de facto moratorium on capital punishment that goes back 45 years, with the last execution carried out in 1976.

Hundreds have been sentenced to death since then, though the punishment has not been carried out.

Plans by former President Maithriapala Sirisena to reinstate capital punishment in June 2019 were met with widespread criticism both locally and internationally.

“Sri Lanka’s plan to resume use of the death penalty is a major setback for human rights,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the Human Rights Watch in June 30 2019.

“Sri Lanka has been a bulwark against capital punishment in Asia for more than four decades, yet now the Sirisena government wants to throw in its lot with less rights-respecting regimes,” he said.

President Sirisena ordered the execution of four convicted drug traffickers, but the Supreme Court in October 2019 extended a previous interim order on the death penalty, effectively preventing the then president’s attempt.

Premadasa, who was a prominent minister in Sirisena’s Yahapalana government though of the then rival United National Party (UNP), publicly expressed his support for the reinstatement of capital punishment in Sri Lanka.

As recently as October 2020, the SJB leader called it an “urgent need” of the hour.

An Amnesty International factsheet on capital punishment notes that evidence from around the world has shown that the death penalty has no unique deterrent effect on crime. Citing studies in the USA and Candada, Amnesty International said there is no evidence to support the claim that abolishing the death penalty leads to higher crime rates.

“In 2004 in the USA, the average murder rate for states that used the death penalty was 5.71 per 100,000 of the population as against 4.02 per 100,000 in states that did not use it. In 2003 in Canada, 27 years after the country abolished the death penalty the murder rate had fallen by 44 per cent since 1975, when capital punishment was still enforced. Far from making society safer, the death penalty has been shown to have a brutalizing effect on society. State sanctioned killing only serves to endorse the use of force and to continue the cycle of violence,” the report said. (Colombo/Jul28/2021)

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Sri Lanka bond yields end higher, kerb dollar Rs370/371

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

The US dollar was 370/371 rupees in the kerb.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

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Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

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India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers

 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

 

 

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