Sri Lanka: Capital Punishment

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Sri Lankan counterpart on the Government of Sri Lanka's decision to end its moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

The British government calls on all countries – including Sri Lanka – to abolish the death penalty. Although the death penalty has not been carried out in Sri Lanka since 1976, capital punishment remains legal and the death sentence continues to be handed down for crimes including murder, drug trafficking and rape. There have been occasional calls for these sentences to be carried out but it has become established practice for them to be commuted to life imprisonment. i.e. de facto moratorium.

Sri Lanka has been a consistent supporter of UN General Assembly resolutions calling for a worldwide suspension of executions since the first such resolution was proposed in 2007. Our High Commission in Colombo joined the EU delegation in lobbying senior officials in the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Relations to maintain this position in the December 2018 UN vote, supporting a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. In January 2019, after further reporting of the intention to restart the death penalty, our High Commission in Colombo raised the issue with senior officials in the Sri Lankan government.

The Government of Sri Lanka is well aware of the UK and EU position on the death penalty and we hope the moratorium will be sustained.

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