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    FM reveals fears in Asian countries to abolish death penalty Featured

    June 24, 2016

    Legislators and jurors in Asian states including Sri Lanka, where the death penalty is yet to be abolished fear and unwilling to take courageous steps to abolish death penalty, according to Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.


    Addressing the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty at Opera House of Oslo (Norway) yesterday he said, “The unwillingness is expressed by them as they fear the knee-jerk reaction of uninformed public opinion”.


    According to the Minister the common challenge faced by them today is persuading the respective people and perhaps even more importantly having the collective courage to lead by acting.


    “However, changing public opinion is a time consuming and resource intensive process. And the evidence points out that, despite persistent advocacy, public opinion on the subject of the death penalty is relatively static in many countries. Therefore, overcoming this key challenge requires an act of political courage. Studies have shown that when people are asked to sit in mock judgment, rather than simply answer survey questions, no more than 30 percent of people support the death penalty, even in the most serious of cases.  In France, although public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty in 1981, its abolition decided by the then President of France led to a change of public opinion. It is clear that the debate resulting from the process of abolishing the death penalty and the lack of change in crime rates after the death penalty has been abolished allays the public’s fears. As a result there have been very, very few cases of reversal once the death penalty is abolished,” he said.


    According to the Minister, the Momentum is slowly building in Asia, where more executions take place than the rest of the world combined. In South-East Asia the number of executions has declined significantly, in South Asia there have been both short and long de facto moratoria.


    In 2007, twenty four Asian states voted against the UN Resolution on a Death Penalty Moratorium, in 2014 that number had declined to 18.


    “There is further good news: Sri Lanka’s Minister of Justice has informed Parliament that Sri Lanka will return to its traditional position of voting in favor of this resolution as it did in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and, more importantly, continuing the four decades long de facto moratorium.”, the Minister added.


    Minister concluding his said that, abolishing the death penalty requires persuasion and resolve but above all it requires leadership - the collective leadership of legislators, activists, editors, academics and jurors. “As momentum towards critical mass develops, I am confident that the coming years will see the death of the death penalty in our region.”


    During his speech, Minister pointed out the occasions, where the measures were taken by Sri Lanka in history to abolish the death penalty.

    Last modified on Friday, 24 June 2016 21:48

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