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Friday, June 7, 2013

Death sentence for 3 Tamil Tiger Terrorists over train bombing

A Sri Lankan High Court on Tuesday sentenced to jail three Tamil Tiger terrorists over a deadly train bombing 17 years ago.
Colombo High Court Judge Kumudini Wickramasinghe sentenced the three terrorists to jail over the 1996 bombing of a train in Dehiwala, in the outskirts of the capital Colombo in which 70 people were killed and nearly 400 others injured.
Two men charged with the crime were sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment while a female rebel was given a 5 year jail term.
All three had pleaded guilty over their involvement in the bombing. The July 24, 1996 attack was carried out by Tamil Tiger operatives placing suitcase bombs in four carriages on a commuter train.
The simultaneous explosion of these bombs resulted in a large number of casualties.
The Tamil Tigers were responsible for several deadly attacks in and around the capital, including suicide attacks, killing thousands during the 30 year war with the government.
The Tamil Tigers were eventually defeated in a humanitarian operation in May 2009 with the military regaining control over all the areas held by the Tiger terrorists in the north and east of the country
Courtesy : Department Of Government Information 
Link:  http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=Death_sentence_for_3_Tamil_Tiger_Terrorists_over_train_bombing_20130607_02

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Maid Rizana Nafeek executed in Saudi Arabia

 

 

The Sri Lankan parliament observed a minute silence in her memory after being informed of the execution

Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan domestic worker convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005 when she was 17, has been executed, according to the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo.

It was earlier reported that the Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry under Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz has issued instructions for Nafeek’s execution.

The Saudi Arabian government has gone ahead with her execution despite assurances as late as last week from Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia that she would be released, according to the Daily Mirror.

The Sri Lankan parliament observed a minute silence in her memory after JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti informed the House about the excution, according to Sunday Times online.
Director General Public Communication Anzul Jhan told Timesonline that she was executed around 11.40 am Saudi time.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa also sent an appeal to King Abdullah on January 6, 2013, requesting a stay of the execution until a settlement can be reached between the baby’s family and a Saudi reconciliation committee.

Nafeek had been working in Saudi Arabia for two weeks in 2005 when the Utaibi family’s four-month-old baby died in her care.

Nafeek retracted a confession that she said was made under duress and said that the baby died in a choking accident while drinking from a bottle.

Saudi authorities had incarcerated Nafeek in Dawadmi prison since 2005.
Earlier report:
Rizana Nafeek, the Sri Lankan maid imprisoned at Saudi Arabia's Dawadami Prison since 2005, may be executed any time now, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reports Ceylon Today.
Dr. Kifaya Iftekhar, who is based in Saudi Arabia and has been looking after the interests of Rizana for several years now, told BBC Sinhala Service that the Sri Lankan Government has been informed by the Saudi authorities of the possibility of her impending execution.
 
"The Sri Lankan Government has been reporting that moves are underway for Rizana's release for several months now and that this may happen any time. However, it appears that these announcements were made only to appease the strong expressions of concern by the Sri Lankan and international community who are calling for her release. The government has not been able to conduct diplomatic negotiations with the family of the deceased infant, which has the power to grant a pardon. Such pardon is usually granted either on the payment of blood money or without such payment by the generosity of the family," the AHRC statement pointed out.
 
Dr. Iftekhar told the BBC Sinhala Service there is still room for assisting Rizana and saving her life.
 
The AHRC has campaigned for Rizana's release since 2007, when her case was brought to the notice of the world. "A vast movement arose within Sri Lanka to demand her release and there was also massive support for her release from the human rights community and particularly from women's movements. Many signature campaigns were conducted on her behalf and websites opened by various concerned groups to rally support for her," the statement said.
 
The AHRC called upon everyone to intervene and write to the Saudi authorities urging them to grant Rizana pardon.
Source: Emirates 24/7 : http://www.emirates247.com/news/sri-lanka/maid-rizana-nafeek-executed-in-saudi-arabia-2013-01-08-1.490276

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sri Lanka: Four persons sentenced to death

Four persons from the same family were sentenced to death by the Kegalle High Court for the murder of a police sergeant who raided an illicit alcohol racket.

The four suspects were convicted of beating the police sergeant with poles which led to his death.

The police officer was said to have raided an illicit alcohol production site where he was brutally assaulted by the four.


Source;  http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=20892 13 Dec 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Colombo denies negotiations with Saudi government on Rizana Nafeek’s case

RIYADH: MD RASOOLDEEN
Tuesday 23 October 2012
Last Update 23 October 2012 2:16 am
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo refuted newspapers reports in Colombo about a meeting between Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, in Kuwait last week on the release of death sentenced housemaid Rizana Nafeek.
The news report stated that President Mahinda Rajapaksa met on Oct. 17 with Prince Salman on the sidelines of the Asia Corporate Dialogue Summit held in Kuwait City. During the meeting, the Saudi government indicated that the attorney general of Sri Lanka should come to Saudi Arabia to discuss the legal issues connected with the release of the condemned Sri Lanka housemaid Rizana Nafeek, who is on death row since July 2007 and in custody since May 2005.
A senior official from the ministry told Arab News from Colombo yesterday that there had been no such meeting between President Rajapaksa and Prince Salman during the summit concluded in Kuwait City last week.
However, he added that the island’s Minister of External Affairs G. Lakshman Peiris met with Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, deputy minister of foreign affairs, on the sidelines of the conference. He said the discussions were centered on bilateral matters only.
Sources from the Saudi foreign ministry said that Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah was the only official representative of the Kingdom at the conference in Kuwait.
Nafeek was sentenced to death on June 16, 2007, by a three-member bench at the Dawadmi High Court for killing the baby she was entrusted to look after in the absence of her Saudi employers at home. The accused maintained that the newborn choked during bottle-feeding, and that she tried to seek help.
In August last year, the Royal Court forwarded the case for an amicable settlement with the Saudi parents of the child she was convicted of killing.
Legal experts in the Kingdom say Nafeek can only be saved if pardoned by the victim’s family. The pardon can be offered with or without a request for blood money.
During an appeal made on behalf of the accused, the judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court in Riyadh on Sept. 25, 2010. Subsequently, the case was forwarded to the Royal Court for necessary action.
In September 2010, Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa also requested Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to pardon Nafeek.
During an earlier meeting between Sri Lankan Ambassador Ahmed A. Jawad and then Deputy Gov. Prince Sattam, the prince confirmed that the case was being taken up by the reconciliation committee of the governorate, whose members were currently negotiating with the parents of the deceased child.
The members of the reconciliation committee usually approach the plaintiff to negotiate a pardon for the accused. Such negotiations are either settled with the payment of blood money or a graceful pardon from the aggrieved parties.
There is no set period for the committee to take a decision; negotiations may take weeks or sometimes several months to settle a case, sources said.
Source:  http://www.arabnews.com/colombo-denies-negotiations-saudi-government-rizana-nafeek%E2%80%99s-case last visited by APHR : 23/10/2012 19:35

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Singapore: 34 death-row cases may come under review

They were facing certain death from the hangman's noose, but may now be given a lifeline after proposed changes to the mandatory death penalty were introduced in Parliament on Monday.
If the new law is passed, the cases against 34 prisoners on death row here can be reviewed, even if they have exhausted all avenues of appeal.
Under proposed changes in the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill and the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2012, these prisoners will be given an opportunity to introduce new evidence to prove that they satisfy the conditions for a life sentence instead.
In Singapore, a life sentence lasts for a prisoner's natural life, but he can apply for a review of his sentence after he has served 20 years in jail.
Among the 34 on death row, 28 were convicted of drug trafficking, and 6 of murder.
A stay of execution was put in place after the review of the mandatory death penalty started in July last year.
There were originally 35 death row prisoners, but one of them, Pathip Selvan Sugumaran, escaped the gallows after the Court of Appeal, in August, set aside his conviction of murdering his girlfriend 4 years ago.
The 26-year-old was found guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Since the proposed changes were announced in Parliament by Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean and Law Minister K. Shanmugam in July, briefing sessions have been held in Changi Prison for death row prisoners.
All 34 can be considered for resentencing under transitional provisions that will be enacted.
Under those provisions, those convicted of murder will be given a chance to show that their cases fall under Sections 300b, c, or d of the Penal Code, which will no longer attract a mandatory death penalty.
Those convicted of drug trafficking will also get a chance to prove that they were only low-level couriers, and also to cooperate with the Central Narcotics Bureau if they have not done so in the past.
The proposed changes to the mandatory death penalty laws will give judges the discretion to impose a life sentence when these conditions are met.
Most of the 34 will be represented by the same lawyers who defended them earlier.
Some prisoners, though, have not yet found lawyers to represent them and appeals have been sent out to the legal community for help.
Source: AsiaOne, October 18, 2012
APHR Source: Death Penalty News:   http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2012/10/singapore-34-death-row-cases-may-come.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DeathPenaltyNews+%28Death+Penalty+News%29
Last Access: 21/Oct/2012 7:17 am

Friday, October 19, 2012

Release of Rizana Nafeek: Sri Lankan Attorney General and Saudi Government to jointly unravel legal implications

By K.T.Rajasingham
Kuwait, 19 October, (Asiantribune.com):
Salman_Mahinda.jpg
Prince Salman & President Rajapaksa
Saudi Arabian Government has indicated that the Attorney General of Sri Lanka should come to Saudi Arabia to discuss the legal issues connected with the release of the condemned Sri Lanka House Maid Rizana Nafeek, who is in the ‘Dead Row’ since July 2007 and in custody since May 2005. In September when Asian Tribune contacted President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he told that, “I have already send in an appeal for clemency and waiting for response from the Saudi Government. He also told Asian Tribune that he is working on the release of the Sri Lankan house maid, who has been condemned for murdering a 4 month old Saudi infant boy.
On 17th October President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the Asia Corporate Dialogue Summit held in the Kuwait City.
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is presently the Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque, Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia, as well as the most senior member of the House of Saud, next to the King of Saudi Arabia.
 Sri Lanka President came up with the subject of Housemaid Rizana Nafeek of Muthur, who has been condemned in Saudi Arabia.
Prince Salman, the Crown Prince who is expected to succeed the King of Saudi Arabia was earlier the Governor of Riyadh and he handled the files connected with the Sri Lankan House Maid Rizana Nafeek .
Sri Lankan President took a personal interest in the case of Rizana Nafeek.
In connection with the issue regarding the release of Rizana Nafeek, Saudi side has told the Sri Lankan delegation that met them, to send in Sri Lanka’s Attorney General to Saudi Arabia for further talks regarding the legal issues connected with the release of House Maid.
Earlier in May 21, 2011 when Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen met Prince Salman in his capacity as the Governor of Riyadh. In the meeting Asian Tribune learnt that Prince Salman has assured to Sri Lankan Minister, that Saudi Arabia will bear the entire amount connected with the blood money payment to the parents of the deceased 4 month old Saudi boy, in case they agreed to pardon the Sri Lankan Housemaid.
[Removed the content unrelated to Rizana Nafeek's issue-Prison notes]
Source: - Asian Tribune - http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2012/10/19/release-rizana-nafeek-sri-lankan-attorney-general-and-saudi-government-jointly-unrav Last viewed 19/10/2012 8.44 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Opposition MP asks Sri Lankan President to seek clemency for death row housemaid at ACD summit Oct 17, Colombo: Ranjan Ramanayake, a parliamentarian of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP), has requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa in writing to take up the issue of Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, who is on death row in Saudi Arabia. Ramanayake has requested the President to take the matter for discussion during the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) currently underway in Kuwait City. He has noted that the President should try and request for clemency for Nafeek. Nafeek was convicted by a Saudi court for allegedly strangulating to death an infant while the victim's parents were away. Nafeek was 16 years of age at the time of the incident and her defence had stated that the infant had died due to suffocation while being fed. Migrant Rights, a rights group representing the plight of migrant workers in Middle East, has also urged President Rajapaksa to address the plight of Nafeek, during his meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia. The group has urged both the President and External Affairs Minister to confront the pressing issue while in the audience of those officials capable of instituting critical change.

Opposition MP asks Sri Lankan President to seek clemency for death row housemaid at ACD summit
Wed, Oct 17, 2012, 07:43 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Oct 17, Colombo: Ranjan Ramanayake, a parliamentarian of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP), has requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa in writing to take up the issue of Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, who is on death row in Saudi Arabia.
Ramanayake has requested the President to take the matter for discussion during the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) currently underway in Kuwait City.
He has noted that the President should try and request for clemency for Nafeek.
Nafeek was convicted by a Saudi court for allegedly strangulating to death an infant while the victim's parents were away. Nafeek was 16 years of age at the time of the incident and her defence had stated that the infant had died due to suffocation while being fed.
Migrant Rights, a rights group representing the plight of migrant workers in Middle East, has also urged President Rajapaksa to address the plight of Nafeek, during his meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia.
The group has urged both the President and External Affairs Minister to confront the pressing issue while in the audience of those officials capable of instituting critical change.
Source:  Wed, Oct 17, 2012, 07:43 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
URL:  http://www.colombopage.com/archive_12A/Oct17_1350483203JR.php

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Stop the execution of Rizana Nafeek

(Hong Kong, October 17, 2012) The AHRC wishes to forward this update from Change.org on the situation of Rizana Nafeek.

Subject: Update about "Stop the Execution of Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia"

Dear supporters of Rizana Nafeek,

We now have over 3,500 signatures on this petition, but Rizana remains
on death row in Saudi Arabia.

The next few days could be critical.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to participate in the first Asian Corporation Dialogue Summit in Kuwait on the 16 and 17 of October.

Rajapaksa will meet with the Emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, as well as the king of Saudi Arabia. We urge President Rajapaksa to use this opportunity to address the plight of Rizana Nafeek, as well as the broader issues facing migrants in the Gulf.

According to Migrant Rights, the President’s office has indicated an intention to broach the case of Rizana:
http://www.asafeworldforwomen.org/children/save-rizana-nafeek/rizana-updates/3142-asia-summit-rizana.html
Now is the time to put pressure on the Sri Lankan president and the Saudi authorities again!

Thank you so much for all your support so far. If you possibly can do so, please share this petition far and wide over the next few days - Rizana's life could depend on it.

Very kindest regards,
Chris
Founder - Safe World for Women.


Please refer to our earlier press release where you will find the link to the petition: SAUDI ARABIA/SRI LANKA: Stop the Execution of Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SRI LANKA: Sentenced to death in S Arabia in 2007, Rizana Nafeek's life hangs by a thread


Asia News

May 21, 2012
 
Falsely charge of murder, the young woman has been in jail since she was 17. The European Union is closely monitoring the case. For Saudi authorities, the "case is not yet closed." Sri Lanka is trying to get the victim's family to pardon her.

Saturday, May 12, 2012 By Asia News

Colombo -- Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan Muslim woman on death row in Saudi Arabia, is holding onto her life by a thread. Despite countless appeals for her release, in and outside the country, by the Sri Lankan government, NGOs and Caritas, the young woman remains in jail for the murder of the newly born baby of the family that employed her.

According to EU High Representative and Vice President Catherine Ashton, the European Union "will continue to follow it (Rizana's case) very attentively, in close coordination with the authorities of her home country, Sri Lanka". In fact, for Saudi authorities, the case "is not yet closed".

Sentenced in 2007, Rizana Nafeek comes from Mutur, a poor village in the eastern district of Trincomalee. She arrived in Saudi Arabia when she was only 17 on a forged passport to work as a maid. Her employer's child died when she was working for him.

After she was accused of killing the baby, she was subjected to a phony trial and sentenced to death based on a confession she signed but whose contents she did not know in a language she did not speak.

A foreign employment agent in Sri Lanka was arrested last year and charged for giving her forged documents.

Sri Lankan authorities have been active in trying to keep Rizana's case in the news. Last Wednesday, Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera said that the execution order had been suspended. He added that a Sri Lankan delegation visited the dead child's family to seek a pardon.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, Saudi Arabia has one the world's highest execution rates.

At the end of 2009, Amnesty International reported that at least 141 people were on death row in Saudi prisons, 104 foreigners.

Migrant workers from Africa, Asia and the Mideast are the main victims.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

වඩේ සුදා පෝරකයට

මීරිගම විල්වත්තේ රූමතිය ඝාතනය කළ

වඩේ සුදා පෝරකයට

තවත් චෝදනා 2කට වසර 30ක සිර දඬුවම් හා රු. 15,000ක දඩ
නිශානි බුද්ධිකා
රටපුරා මහත් ආන්දෝලනයට තුඩු දුන් මීරිගම විල්වත්ත ප්‍රදේශයේදී මීට වසර හයකට පමණ පෙර තරුණියක දූෂණය කර ඝාතනය කිරීමේ සිද්ධියට සම්බන්ධ සැකකරුට ගම්පහ මහාධිකරණ විනිසුරු පියසීලි වික්‍රමසිංහ මතුරට මහත්මිය ඊයේ (21) මරණ දණ්ඩනය නියම කළා ය.
‘වඩේ සුදා’
ඊට අමතරව විත්තිකරුට චෝදනා දෙකකට වසර තිහක බරපතළ වැඩ සහිත සිර දඬුවම නියම කළ අතර එකී චෝදනා දෙකට රුපියල් පහළොස් දහසක දඩයක් ද මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය විසින් නියම කෙරිණි.
දඩ මුදල නොගෙවන්නේ නම් වසරක සිර දඬුවමක් ද මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය විසින් ්නියම කෙරිණි.
සිද්ධියට අදාළව මරණීය දණ්ඩනය නියම කෙරුණේ, වනසිංහ ආරච්චිගේ සමන්ත තිලකසිරි නොහොත් ‘වඩේ සුදා’ නමැත්තාටයි.
සිද්ධියෙන් ඝාතනයට ලක් වූයේ ස්ටීවන් කෝරළාගේ දොන් නිශානි බුද්ධිකා (26) නමැත්තියයි.
වසර 2006 - 11 -03 දින මීරිගම විල්වත්තේ දී මෙම තැනැත්තිය දූෂණය කිරීම, ඇය සතු රන් ආභරණ කොල්ල කෑම සහ ඇයව ඝාතනය කිරීම සිදු කර ඇති බවට අධිකරණයට අනාවරණය විය.
නීතිපති උපදෙස් අනුව මෙම නඩුව ගම්පහ මහාධිකරණයේ දී 2012 - 02 - 10 දින ආරම්භ විය.
පැමිණිල්ල වෙනුවෙන් රජයේ අධි නීතිඥ දම්තිනී ද සිල්වා මෙනෙවිය පෙනී සිටි අතර විත්තිය වෙනුවෙන් නීතිඥ ශ්‍රී කාන්ත මහතා පෙනී සිටියේ ය.
 දිනමිණ 22 මැයි 2012

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Condemned! – Rejected Human Beings

By Niranjala Ariyawansha

The female ward of the Welikada Prison Complex houses convicts local as well as foreign
Q: Who are condemned
prisoners?
A: Well, do you know what condemned vehicles are?
Q: They are vehicles unsuitable for use.
A: That’s right. Condemned prisoners are those unsuitable to enter civil society, expelled from society and simply totally rejected human beings.
These responses come from Asoka Hapuaarachchi, Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, sitting in his cozy office inside the Welikada Prison Complex.
However, on the outer side of the high walls, large bold letters declare: Prisoners are also Human Beings!
One wonders at the fate of these prison inmates who are condemned to live under officials who consider the prisoners as ‘rejected or unsuitable for civil society. Some may view the comparison as ‘absurd’. While I view the whole process as abhorrent, it is interesting to note the novel interpretation the Dy Prisons Commissioner comes up with regard to human life.
Readers may wonder what all this fuss about technical terms. The issue is not about terminology. It’s about the final analysis in the interpretation. How the subject of humanity has been assessed; and the interpretation they themselves provide for humanity, which they themselves had placed on a high pedestal.
There are 854 such ‘condemned’ men and women in Welikada, Mahara and Bogambara prisons as at April 30, 2012.  They have been convicted by court for murder and other such serious crimes.
For some time, they have been making one single demand. That is that they be executed, or convert their death sentence to life imprisonment. They have been making this demand since 2001as it is the year they had been condemned to this ‘No Man’s Land’.
Death by hanging has been suspended since June 5, 1976 and those sentenced to death that year had their sentences converted to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment lasts about 20 years, but according to the Prisons Ordinance, those who fall into the category of Good Conduct could be freed in 12 or 14 years enabling them to enter civil society. That was the procedure followed since the death sentence was converted to Life Imprisonment since 1976.
Life Imprisonment was terminated on May 26, 2002 and ever since, the condemned prisoners are in a serious dilemma resulting in severe mental stress. A. Dissanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Prisons and Prison Reforms explains the reasons behind the decision to terminate the death sentence.
“There was a reason to stop life imprisonment for condemned prisoners in 2001. A judge sentenced an accused and his sentence was converted to life imprisonment. After being released from prison, he again committed a crime and was produced before the very same judge who sentenced him earlier. The judge made a statement declaring it a dangerous precedent. It was after that incident that the conversion of death sentence into life imprisonment was suspended effective May 26, 2001.
In Sri Lanka, after the death sentence is pronounced in courts, the sanction of the head of state is necessary to carry out the  sentence. Although the death sentence was suspended since 1976, it has so far not been abolished. The sanction of the Head of State comes in the form of declaring the date that the execution should be carried out. In such circumstances, what is the fate of the condemned prisoner? Before 1976, the condemned prisoners were aware that they would be executed. Later, when the death sentence was converted to life imprisonment, there was a definite change in that assumption realizing that some day they would go free. During those passing years, there was the possibility of them repenting for their past crimes and prepare themselves to come back into the civil society. Despite the fact that had committed serious crimes, the prisoners do have used the time spent in prison to come back to the right path.
However today, these prisoners are totally uncertain of their future. Uncertainty seems to extend to eternity and they vehemently demand that their sentences be converted to life imprisonment or they be executed.
Sri Lankas are quite used to long queues of various sorts, but this segment of Sri Lankans are languishing in a entirely different kind of queue… a queue that ends in certain death!
There are certainly criminals involved in most heinous crimes. They are those who wrested the right to life from fellow human beings. As such they should certainly be punished. But this writer is totally against killings and executions, both legal and illegal.
However, the cause for concern is in the uncertainty of their sentence. A jailor employed in the Welikada prisons, who wished to remain anonymous has this to say:
“They are all criminals. There’s no doubt about it. They should serve a long prison term for their crimes. But it is also a crime to keep them in suspense without carrying out the death sentence or turning their sentence into life imprisonment.  They always ask us what their fate is. We have no answers, for we ourselves are unaware of their fate.”
According to prison officials, of the 854 who had received death sentence, 498 have appealed against the conviction. They claim that the other issue is that it would take at least five years for those appeals to be reviewed.
Commenting on this issue, Ministry Secretary Dissanayake says that to date the number sentenced to death is very high. With the escalation of crime by the day, the situation would worsen, he added.
“The number in the Death Row has increased to 854. We are indeed sensitive to their plight and a committee headed by a judge has been appointed in 2011that includes officials of the Ministry of Justice and Prisons Department. The report of that committee has been handed over to the Presidential Secretariat. The committee has recommended that the sanction of the Attorney General and the Justice Minister is needed to carry out the death sentence. In addition, the sanction of the President is also necessary. Also there are recommendations that each and every conviction be reviewed on an individual basis. According to our information, there could be more chances to obtain a presidential pardon.”
According to the Ministry Secretary, as a May 2012, there were about 25,000 inmates in various prisons and detention centres in the island and Rs. 318 is spent on each prisoner per day including meals amounting to about Rs. 7,950,000 per day. The total annual expenditure of the Prisons Department amounts to Rs. 3.9 billion, said the Secretary Dissanayake.
Rs. 271,572 is spent daily on the 854 in the death row totaling Rs. 99,123,780 per year.
However, an official at the Welikada Prison, who did not wish to be named, said that some inmates who had been in the prison for between 10 to 30 years can contract various diseases.
The ‘Chapel’ building at the Welikada Prison has 352 cells. However, these 352 cells have only 17 toilets. As of May 15, 2012 there were 4,146 inmates at the Welikada Prison. The ‘Chapel’ building had 2,500 inmates as of that same date.
Around 585 inmates at the prison who are on death row do not have toilet facilities and have to make do with whatever is available in their cell. For this purpose they have been supplied with a plastic bucket, and that plastic bucket remains in the cell for a full 24 hours.
An inmate who is on death row can be kept in a single cell or three inmates on death row can be kept in the same cell. Under prison laws two people on death row cannot be kept in one cell. The reason for this is that if two people are in one cell and one person commits a crime against the other, there is no witness to provide evidence.
The prison official said that in a cell where only one prisoner or three prisoners can be kept, there are six prisoners. There is no room for them to even move about. There are also six buckets-one for each of the prisoners.to use as a toilet. This situation is not for a short period, but remains round the clock.
Over the past fifteen years the Minister in charge of prisons, the secretary to the Ministry, the commissioner general of prisons or any other prison official have not inspected the poor conditions in the cells, the official said. “Karalliyadda so far is the best commissioner general to have been appointed. After he left the current Minister, secretary or Kodippili have not set foot in the cell areas so far”, the official said.
This official also said that Asoka Happuarachchi and the prison commissioner instead of looking at the welfare of the prisoners are instead having various events in the prison premises thus hiding the true conditions of the prison.
In a country with a population of over 21 million by the year 2012 there are at least 854 people sentence to death for various crimes. As such, the society too has a responsibility to ask the question whether they are to be brought back to civil society or let them languish in the death row for eternity?
Sri Lanka, down the ages, have been nurtured by a number of religions and today they all have been placed in a high pedestal by society.  As a result, our mindset too is based on various religious leanings much more than scientific thinking. One begins to wonder whether our religions have failed? In such circumstances, it is to be assumed that solutions that could not be found in religions could be sought within the legal system.
According to the secretary to the Ministry a presidential pardon is likely for most of the people who are on death row. However, we should not assume that all 854 people on death row will be released. As President Mahinda Rajapaksa takes the Miracle of Asia concept forward there is nothing stopping him from pardoning those 854 people. If he does that then that concept will see light faster.
Prisons deputy commissioner Asoka Happuarachchi says that the 854 inmates on death row are at Welikada, Bogambara and Mahara. All those who are facing charges before the law are still citizens of this country. However, although they have been sentenced to death, one should not forget the fact that they too are citizens of this country. ‘According to law humanity is given preference over anything else.’ However, today we live in a society the Rajapaksa regime is providing hilarious interpretations to humanity, law and order and various other ideals.
Source: Sunday Leader online edition:  Last access 20 May 2012
link: //www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/05/20/condemned-rejected-human-beings/
Information for sale
Deputy commissioner Asoka Happuarachchi, when contacted regarding some of the issues in the prison, said that he will get back to us and took this reporters mobile number. He then called back from his office phone and provided some information regarding the conditions in the prison.  Excerpts of the conversation: Asoka Happuarachchi: The information I have given you now is worth between 200,000 and 300,000. How much will you get for this story? Reporter: What I get is only my monthly salary.






Friday, May 11, 2012

Fresh bid to secure pardon for Rizana

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In a fresh effort to secure a pardon for Rizana Nafeek who has been sentenced to death under Islamic sharia law in Saudi Arabia, a group of Sri Lankan MPs recently visited the victim infant’s grandparents, Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera said today.

Rizana was sentenced to death in February, 2005 under Sharia law for allegedly strangling to death this infant while bottle-feeding.

Mr. Perera said that the group of Sri Lankan MPs visited the village of the parents of this infant in the latest effort to secure a pardon.

 “Rizana is in jail. According to the law of that country, a judicial execution is carried out two or three years after it is announced by a court of law. Yet, in the case of Rizana, it has been suspended following a request by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Saudi King. That is why she is still in jail without being executed,” he said.

For securing a release for her in terms of the law of that country, he said, the consent of both the parents of the victim should be obtained.

 “We visited the village where the parents live in Saudi Arabia. Yet, we only met the grandparents of the baby,” he said.

The Minister was responding to a question by UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake in this regard.  Mr. Ramanayake asked about steps taken by the Ministry to educate Sri Lankan expatriate workers about Sharia law practised in the Middle-East.

Mr. Perera replied that   staging of protests in front of the Saudi Embassy would not help in any way in securing a pardon for Rizan.

“Sharia law is the divine law for Muslims. If you protest against that law, it will offend their religious sensitivities. Then, the people of that country will be against a pardon,” he said.
Source: Daily  Mirror  (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)

Friday, April 27, 2012

APHR argues Government to replace Death Penalty with other forms of Punishment.


The Ministry of Rehabilitations and Prison Reforms has requested Ministry of Justice to consider changing the Death Penalty into a life sentence, reported in the Government owned Sinhalese News Paper Dinamina on 26th April. According to the newspaper the Ministry has appointed a committee to examine the different way to replace Death penalty   as punishment.
 This media statement released by the Ministry,  in the context of rising  dissatisfaction and frustration among nearly 355 Death Row inmates in Welikada and Bogambara prisons, about their current deteriorating prison conditions and inhuman treatments received by themselves.  Very often, the Death Row inmates argue with the Prison Authorities to either Hang them or change their capital punishment in to a other form of  sentences  that allow Death Row Inmates  to move freely inside the prison and take part  with activities available for other convicted  prisoners. 
APHR want to recall that Sri Lanka is under defacto  moratorium since 1976 after the last official execution, and currently 76 states  out of 146 UNO member states are  already abolished Death Penalty and substitute the  the Capital Punishment with alternative conditions. 
APHR wish to argue that Government Authorities including Rehabilitation and Prison Reform Ministry should genuinely   committed  to revoking the Death Penalty form the Penal Cord. The death penalty is substituted with life imprisonment with the possibility of pardon or amnesty, conditional release or alternative means according to the  Human Rights stipulated in the Sri Lankan Constitution  and International Human Rights Law.
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Connecticut Abolishes the Death Penalty


Wednesday, April 25, 2012
 USA Hartford, CT)  – Saying this is "a moment for sober reflection, not celebration," Governor Dannel Malloy(D) signed a bill Wednesday repealing the death penalty in Connecticut.
Citing his experience as a prosecutor and the "unworkable" nature of Connecticut's death penalty law, Malloy said his position in opposition to capital punishment has evolved over time.
A controversial aspect of the repeal is that it is "prospective." It does not apply to the eleven men currently on Connecticut's death row. Malloy acknowledged the inherent conflict, but said the inmates currently awaiting their executions are far more likely "to die of old age than they are to be put to death."
Recognizing the controversial nature of his decision (a Quinnipiac Poll released today says 62% of state residents favor the death penalty), Malloy issued an unusually long signing statement outlining his position.
Statement From Governor Dannel Malloy: 
"This afternoon I signed legislation that will, effective today, replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release as the highest form of legal punishment in Connecticut. Although it is an historic moment – Connecticut joins 16 other states and the rest of the industrialized world by taking this action – it is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration.
"Many of us who have advocated for this position over the years have said there is a moral component to our opposition to the death penalty. For me, that is certainly the case. But that does not mean – nor should it mean – that we question the morality of those who favor capital punishment. I certainly don't. I know many people whom I deeply respect, including friends and family, that believe the death penalty is just. In fact, the issue knows no boundaries: not political party, not gender, age, race, or any other demographic. It is, at once, one of the most compelling and vexing issues of our time.
"My position on the appropriateness of the death penalty in our criminal justice system evolved over a long period of time. As a young man, I was a death penalty supporter. Then I spent years as a prosecutor and pursued dangerous felons in court, including murderers. In the trenches of a criminal courtroom, I learned firsthand that our system of justice is very imperfect. While it's a good system designed with the highest ideals of our democratic society in mind, like most of human experience, it is subject to the fallibility of those who participate in it. I saw people who were poorly served by their counsel. I saw people wrongly accused or mistakenly identified. I saw discrimination. In bearing witness to those things, I came to believe that doing away with the death penalty was the only way to ensure it would not be unfairly imposed.
"Another factor that led me to today is the 'unworkability' of Connecticut's death penalty law. In the last 52 years, only 2 people have been put to death in Connecticut – and both of them volunteered for it. Instead, the people of this state pay for appeal after appeal, and then watch time and again as defendants are marched in front of the cameras, giving them a platform of public attention they don't deserve. It is sordid attention that rips open never-quite-healed wounds. The 11 men currently on death row in Connecticut are far more likely to die of old age than they are to be put to death.
"As in past years, the campaign to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut has been led by dozens of family members of murder victims, and some of them were present as I signed this legislation today. In the words of one such survivor: 'Now is the time to start the process of healing, a process that could have been started decades earlier with the finality of a life sentence. We cannot afford to put on hold the lives of these secondary victims. We need to allow them to find a way as early as possible to begin to live again.' Perhaps that is the most compelling message of all.
"As our state moves beyond this divisive debate, I hope we can all redouble our efforts and common work to improve the fairness and integrity of our criminal justice system, and to minimize its fallibility."
Source:http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2012/04/connecticut-abolishes-death-penalty.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DeathPenaltyNews+%28Death+Penalty+News%29

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ජීවිත සමාව-විසි අවුරුදු සිර දඬුවම යළි ක්‍රියාවට නැංවීම ගැන නිර්දේශ

මරණ දඬුවම සහ ජීවිතාන්තය දක්වා සිර දඬුවම් නියම වූ සිරකරුවන්ට ජීවිත සමාව සහ විසි අවුරුදු සිරදඬුවම යළිත් ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීම සඳහා වන නිර්දේශ ඇතුළත් වාර්තාවක් පුනරුත්ථාපන හා බන්ධනාගාර ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ අමාත්‍යංශය මගින් අධිකරණ අමාත්‍යංශයට ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇත.
මේ දඬුවම් යළි සංශෝධන තුළින් ක්‍රියාත්මක කිරීමට පුනරුත්ථාපන හා බන්ධනාගාර ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ ඇමැති චන්ද්‍රසිරි ගජදීර මහතා කමිටුවක් පත් කළ අතර එම කමිටු වාර්තාව මෙසේ ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇත.
මේ යෝජනා ඇතුළත් කමිටු වාර්තාව අධිකරණ අමාත්‍යංශය මගින් ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්‍ෂ මහතා වෙත යොමු කෙරෙන අතර ජනාධිපතිවරයා මේ සම්බන්ධයෙන් ලබාදෙන තීන්දුව මත දඬුවම පෙර තිබූ පරිදි ක්‍රියාවට නැංවෙයි.
වර්ෂ 1976න් පසු මරණ දණ්ඩනය ක්‍රියාත්මක නොවූ අතර එයින් පසු මරණ දණ්ඩනයට නියම වූවන්ද ජීවිතාන්තය දක්වාම බන්ධනාගාරගත කර තැබිණි.
මරණ දණ්ඩනයට නියමවූවන් යහපත් කල්ක්‍රියාවෙන් බන්ධනාගාර තුළ කල් ගත කිරීමේදී ඔවුනට ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ අවසරය මත ජීවිත සමාව හිමිවිය.
ජීවිතාන්තය දක්වා සිර දඬුවම් නියම වූවන් යහපත් කල්ක්‍රියාවෙන් බන්ධනාගාරය තුළ කටයුතු කිරීම තුළ එම දඬුවම 20 අවුරුදු කාල සීමාවේ සිට 10 අවුරුදු කාල සීමාව දක්වා වන නීති ක්‍රමයක් එතැන් පටන් ක්‍රියාත්මක විණි.
එහෙත් වසර 2002 දී මේ ක්‍රමය අහෝසි කළ අතර එයින් පසු මේ වර්ගයේ රැඳවියන්ට ජීවිත සමාව හෝ දඬුවම් කාල සීමා ලිහිල් කිරීමක් සිදු නොකෙරිණි.
මේ වනවිට වැලිකඩ සහ බෝගම්බර බන්ධනාගාර තුළ මරණ දණ්ඩනයට නියමවූ රැඳවියෝ 355 ක් සිටින අතර ජීවිතාන්තය දක්වා සිරදඬුවම් නියම වූවන් 243 දෙනෙක් සිටියි.
 Dinamina 2012 April 26th

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sri Lanka: Monk hangs self in Kandy Prison

A Buddhist monk who was detained at the Kandy remand prison after being arrested for possessing marijuana has committed suicide by hanging himself.

Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana says the 73-year-old monk, of a monastery in Wilgamuwa, was found dead in his prison cell on Friday (25) morning.

The monk was arrested by Wilgamuwa Police on February 19 for possessing 500g of ganja and remanded after being produced before Naula Magistrate’s Court the following day.

The body is currently placed at the Kandy Hospital mortuary while postmortem examinations have not been completed yet, the police media spokesman said in a release.
Source: Sri Lanka News -Adadeerana on line edition

Sri Lanka: Two Men Sentence to Death

The Kandy High Court sentenced to death two murder suspects who had been involved in a murder that took place in 2001 in Harasgama Road Matale.

Kandy High Court Judge Ms. M.C.Phuspamalee sentenced to death the two accused B.G. Karunaratne alias Raja and B. Ariyaratne over the murder of H.D.Wimalasena on or about September 7, 2001.

There were six witnesses called by the prosecution and the Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Sanjeewa Illanayake in evidence submitted to court that there had been eight injuries on the body and the skull was in pieces triggering brain damage.

At the conclusion of the trial, the High Court Judge sentenced both accused to be hung and ordered that they should be at the Bogambara Prison until the date for the hanging is announced by the President.
Source: Dali y Mirror on line edition (L.B.Senaratane)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Buddhist monk sentenced to death

A Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka has been sentenced to death – the first in 50 years to receive such a sentence in the country.
He was condemned for a murder committed before he was ordained into the clergy.
His fate is however unclear as no death sentence has been carried out for more than three decades.
The 37-year-old monk, Venerable Gomadiye Sarana, was sentenced to death by a court in southern Sri Lanka along with a companion.
They had been found guilty of murdering a man 12 years ago – some years before the monk entered holy orders.
Bandaranaike murder
The crime appeared linked to a dispute over an affair the monk had with the murder victim’s sister.
Reports say the judge ordered the monk to remove his robes before he delivered the judgment. But the monk refused.
Theravada Buddhist monks play a prominent public role in Sri Lanka.
This is the first time a monk has been given the death sentence since the hanging in 1962 of Talduwe Somarama, a fierce Sinhalese nationalist who had assassinated a Sri Lankan prime minister.
Other monks have recently been implicated in serious crimes. Last year a court ordered the arrest of a Buddhist cleric in northern Sri Lanka for allegedly sexually molesting a teenage girl.
In the south a crowd of protestors demanded the arrest of someone they said was a monk for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl. And last week police said they detained a monk in possession of heroin.
People are regularly sentenced to death in Sri Lanka but the last judicial execution happened in 1976 so there are hundreds on death row. 
Source: 
 
 
L

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sri Lanka: Another Six individuals received Death Penalty


The Provincial High Court of Kegalle today (Feb. 08) handed down death sentences to six individuals convicted in three murder cases. 

The suspects were found guilty of three separate murders which had taken place in Aranayake, Avissawella and Deraniyagala.

High Court Judge Menaka Wijesundara handed down the sentences as the charges against the suspects had been proven beyond reasonable doubt. 
Source: Ada Dearana. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sri Lanka: Puttalam District court issues death sentence

Sunday Leader on line edition
The Puttalam High Court issued the death sentence on a suspect arrested in 2007 for having heroin in his possession.
P. Mohomad Jauffer was found guilty today for having heroin in his possession when a vehicle was stopped at a police check point in Nagaviluwa, Puttalam in 2007.
Puttalam High Court judge S.B Arafat Kassim issued the death sentence when the case was taken up for hearing today.
The first accused in the case, K. Selvaratnam, was released by the court while another suspect, Salam Azwar, is believed to have fled to India.
High Court judge S.B Arafat Kassim issued an arrest warrant for Azwar and instructed the police to present the warrant to the police in India.
Heroin weighing some 899.5 grams was found in the vehicle at the time it was checked but the suspect had managed to flee.
Following investigations, the police identified the three suspects and arrested two of them as the other man had fled the country.
03 Feb 2012 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Caged in time: He dreams of being free BY GAMINI AKMEEMANA

 
At a time when boys dream of going to university, entering adulthood, finding jobs, of love and marriage, Jayalath Bandara ended in prison. Not just in prison, but in death row, and he’s been languishing there for the past eight years.
The horror of his situation strikes home with all the more force when you realise that Bandara now 34 is confined to a wheel chair. He has to be helped by his elder brother, jailed along with him and fellow prisoners. If the day comes when the death sentence is actually carried out, he’ll have to be hung while sitting on that chair. Or he’ll have to be held up by two guards while the hangman tightens the noose around his neck.It’s a gross miscarriage of justice. Bandara isn’t a hardened criminal incarcerated here for a shocking crime. He can only be described as an accessory to a murder. He was standing by his father and brothers who were arguing with another villager over the right to work a paddy field. The argument went bad and Jayalath’s elder brother Chandraratna Bandara killed the man with a mamoty. The police arrested all the males in the family including Jayalath who was a 17-year-old schoolboy. That was in March 1994. The judge, reluctant to jail a minor, released him on Rs.2,000 bail. The police seem to have been prejudiced against the family from the start and Jayalath and his terrified mother were forced to sign a statement at the Wellawaya police station, the contents of which were not shown to them. It was while being at liberty on bail in 1996 that Jayalath fell from a coconut tree, damaging his spine. After the initial treatment, recovery seemed possible, but the trial interrupted treatment and he ended up being a cripple for life.
The case was heard at the Badulla Magistrate’s Court. The defense lawyer abandoned the case a few weeks before the verdict. Clearly, the defense had not studied the case properly. The judge had not been informed of the vital fact that Jayalath was only 17 and hence a minor when the murder was committed. The result was a gross miscarriage of justice as far as Jayalath was concerned. A group of volunteers are now acting to get Jayalath a presidential pardon. The sooner this happens, the better, because it is inhuman to keep this young man in jail. To understand the meaning of this statement, you really have to see how he survives on death row. Words alone aren’t enough to reproduce the full horror of his situation.
He spends most of his time in Bogambara Prison, Kandy, but is sent to Welikada prison in Colombo for two-week stints. It isn’t much of a choice. Death row at Bogambara is hellishly hot with all windows covered, but there are fewer mosquitoes at night due to the milder climate. It is also cleaner than the pest-infested death row at Welikada, though the word hardly seems applicable to the dismal interiors of our overcrowded prisons.
When I visited him in Welikada (since then, he has been transferred to Bogambara prison in Kandy), I had to speak to him through the thick wire mesh which blocked out entry to the dismal interior which houses the prisoners. During the day, they are free to wander about the dimly lit corridors which recall pictures of hellish mental asylums of 19th century Europe. It’s amazing that no one has done any detailed research into the mental and physical health of longterm prisoners in our prisons. It is inevitable that many fall sick or become degenerate under such appalling conditions. The Dehiwela Zoo is hardly a paradise for the caged animals that live in apathy there, but even they seem to be better off than the inmates of our prisons, especially those on death row. At least two ministers of the government, past and present, have spent considerable time in jail, but none have taken the time or trouble even to think of prison reforms once they gained political power.
Society by and large has taken a ‘serves them right’ attitude towards hardcore criminals. Tacit approval for the extrajudicial executions of mafia members and gagsters is widespread across all walks of society. This makes the entire judicial process redundant. At the same time, there is widespread approval of the death penalty, as there is a deep rooted belief that this will deter crime (even though evidence from many parts of the world suggests otherwise). As for those stuffed into our hellish prisons, there is an appalling indifference. As columnist Gamini Wiyangoda recently commented, the phrase ‘prisoners too, are human’ is displayed prominently on the walls of Welikada prison. He sarcastically suggested that this should be displayed inside, not outside.
Our prisons house hardcore criminals along with those sentenced for lesser crimes. In death row, Jayalath, soft-spoken, physically fragile and emotionally vulnerable, must cohabit with rapists and pathological killers. In a civil society, even serial killers are accorded a basic standard of living in prison. They are not left to rot in inhuman, unsanitary conditions. But our prisons, among many other things, lead us to seriously question if ours is a civil society.
Due to the incompetence of the lawyers and the resulting gross miscarriage of justice, Jalayath lost his youth and his future. He could not complete his ordinary level exam. Prison doesn’t allow a death row prisoner to study for an exam. In any case, Jayalath says he has lost his memory and concentration over the years. But he dreams of freedom. Even if he dies as a beggar on the road, he wants to die a free man, and our law and order system, if it has a conscience, is duty bound to let him out now.

Paralysed and on death row By Kumudini Hettiarachchi Sunday Time 9 Oct 2011

This article is published in conjuction with Oct 10th World Anti Death Penalty Day

Entangled in a murder at 16 plus, prisoner G5610 pleads for Presidential clemency.
Kumudini Hettiarachchi reports
Dressed in full white, Jayalath Bandara greets us with palms together in the traditional Sinhala way. It’s just like any meeting across the country, or is it?
The harsh reality of this meeting is different. It’s not a convivial gathering of people over cake and hot cups of tea at 11 in the morning. We are meeting Jayalath in the small area leading to D-Ward, having reached Bogambara in Kandy at around 8.30 a.m.
Jayalath slumped in a wheelchair has as his backdrop the huge barred and padlocked door of D-Ward with cells behind it.
Is it coincidental that the area where he is being incarcerated is called D-Ward, for he is on death row at the Bogambara Prison and has been languishing here for many a long year, with a brief stay of two weeks at Welikada with his older brother.
This 33-year-old has been convicted and sentenced to death for murder, lost his appeal, with the conviction and sentence being upheld. (See timeline of his life’s tragic events.) He has not been hanged, however, as Sri Lanka has placed a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty, with the last hanging being in 1976.
With all the hype about the recruitment of a new Alu Gosuwa (Hangman), by whatever name he is called, which he has read in the newspapers, a chilling fear pervades his very being, though the tingles do not run down his spine, for he has been paralysed waist down since 1996.
So what, will ask all the law-abiding people of this country? If Jayalath committed murder, justice has to be meted out. The Sunday Times took an in-depth look not only at the pathetic but also the tragic plight of Jayalath who had allegedly been embroiled in this case as a lad of 16 plus.
The tale of unfortunate circumstances unfolds at D-Ward. The day his life changed irrevocably is etched in his memory like yesterday.
It was January 2, 1994, the Sunday before the new school term began when Jayalath as a 16-year-old would go into the Ordinary Level class at the Central School in his hometown of Wellawaya in Moneragala district.
His family had some land, mainly goda idam but little mada idam (kumburu or paddyfields). There was a dispute between Jayalath’s father and his grandmother about a plot of land. Jayalath’s family, with father and three sons including Jayalath had toiled in this particular kumbura for long and weary hours. However, that fateful Sunday, a neighbour told them that the “chandiya” (thug) in the village was ploughing the land.
Api deveni paratath haala thibbe. Niyara kapala, we wapuranna witherai thibbe, says Jayalath, with his eyes brimming over at the events which made his life take a drastic turn. (His family had already ploughed the field and had only to cut the niyara and sow the paddy)
Furious at the gumption of the chandiya, his father grabbed the keththa and rushed to the kumbura, with Jayalath and two brothers going along with him.
An argument ensued and the deed took place, with father and elder brother immediately giving themselves up at the Police Station. Jayalath’s terrified mother and sisters then packed the young lad off to a relative’s home in Mahiyanganaya, while the police arrested the second brother.
On the instigation of a neighbour who had a grudge against them, the police also insisted that Jayalath should be taken in as well. The rest, of course, is tragic history for the family. With no money to hire good lawyers, the home and livelihood in disarray and only womenfolk to fight out the unfamiliar legal battles, the case dragged on without, according to rights activist Bernard Edirisinghe – who along with many others is urging and pleading for Jayalath’s release even so late in the day – the court being told clearly that he was a minor at the time of the incident.
While the case was dragging on, fate had more in store for Jayalath. Out on bail, he was up on a kurumba tree with another village lad when he lost his footing and fell, injuring his spine. That effectively confined him to a wheelchair, a fact most probaly court had no indication of.
Pavula seeseekada gihilla, says Bernard, with Jayalath’s father, Disapala Mudiyanselage Thillekeratne dying on death row and one brother, Ranasinghe Bandara, being knifed to death while on bail, when he was waylaid and robbed of his wages as a mason’s helper, while returning home. The other brother, Gnanathilake Bandara is on death row at Welikada Prison with whom Jayalath recently had a tearful reunion when he went “visit balanna” there.
Jayalath’s distraught mother, Sudu Menike had died after being driven insane over Jayalath’s fate and trying to get him released. His two sisters, both farm labourers, in Wellawaya and Mahiyanganaya, are holding Bodhi pooja for the release of their malli even at this late stage.
The ravages of prison-life have not wreaked havoc on Jayalath who has a pleasant and fresh-faced demeanour.
Mulu davase kalpana kara kara inne, he tells us explaining that the time is spent thinking. He can’t eat, he can’t sleep. His three cell-mates look after him, carrying him to the toilet for his ablutions, bathing him and wheeling him in his chair. Jayalath appreciates not only the kindness of his death-row peers but also the prison officials.
On death row for about eight years, his routine could send many round the bend. Waking up at 6 a.m. they are given their breakfast and let out for half-an-hour just to get some air and sun right outside D-Ward, followed by lunch and then locked up in their small cells between 12 noon and 2 p.m. Thereafter, they are let out into the main area of D-Ward till 5 in the evening and then locked up in their cells after dinner from that time till 6 the next morning.
“We can read newspapers and books and watch a little TV or play draughts,” says Jayalath who is one among hundreds of prisoners on death row. There is no rehabilitation for those sentenced to death asthey have to be kept under lock and key. Jayalath keeps pondering his fate, uninterested in what is happening around him for the Sword of Damocles, nay the hangman’s noose swings just over him. His sisters who have to work very hard for their daily rice and curry simply cannot spare the time nor do they have the money to visit him at Bogambara.
As we bid adieu to ‘No. G5610’ on death row, the tears flow and Jayalath looks longingly at the door that we move out of and across the garden to the huge gate that shuts this world from the buzz of Kandy town.
There is only one hope for what seems a terrible travesty of justice, as the world marks Anti-Death-Penalty Day tomorrow (October 10). The hope for Jayalath is a pardon from none other than President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Timeline of events
  • November 23, 1977–Jayalath Bandara is born (see birth certificate)
  • January 2, 1994 – The day the murder takes place
  • 1996 – Jayalath gets paralysed after falling from a tree
  • October 14, 2003 – Badulla High Court sentences him to death (Case No. HC 126/95)
  • June 11, 2005 – The first hearing of the appeal in the Court of Appeal (Case No. 107/2003)
  • March 16, 2006 – Court of Appeal judgment upholding High Court verdict
  • February 27, 2007 – Court of Appeal judgment read out
  • September 14, 2010 – A civilian writes to Prison Reforms Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera asking him to intervene on behalf of Jayalath
  • June 26, 2011 and after – Many letters written to the President requesting clemency.
  • July 7, 2011 – A public petition launched by Jayalath's sister Sriyani is signed by villagers. There are 116 signatures
  • July 2011 – The Prison Welfare Committee chaired by Sam Wijesinha discusses Jayalath’s case and requests case file from the prison authorities
  • July 2011 – Another public petition signed by 3,000 well-wishers is sent around

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rizana’s health condition worsens; Moulavis on mercy mission to Saudi

10 July Colombo: By Leon Berenger The Government is to rush a delegation of senior Muslim clerics to Saudi Arabia to secure the release of Rizana Nafik who is facing a public beheading after she was found guilty of killing her employer’s child amid reports she is under severe mental stress.
An External Affairs Ministry official said they were awaiting clearance from the Saudi authorities for the mission of the delegation comprising senior moulavis from various parts of the country.
A Muslim woman joins a free-Rizana protest in Colombo on Friday. Pic by Saman Kariyawasam
“This is our last chance to save the girl, after all the previous attempts had failed,” the official said.
Meanwhile Dr. Inamullh Masihudeen Naleemi, a former Consul General in Riyadh, has called upon the Government to initiate an appeal process in Saudi Arabia to secure Rizana’s release since she was underage at the time she was given the death sentence.
Dr. Naleemi who is a scholar on Sharia laws said an appeal could be made to the Supreme Judicial Council of Saudi Arabia to review the earlier verdict given by the Supreme Court citing article 173 of the legal code.
He said under the Saudi Sharia Law no death penalty could be given to a person below 18 years of age, and the maid was 17 years and two months old at the time of her arrest on May 25, 2005 although she had taken up employment on doctored travel documents that had given a higher age.
“The maid who has been in jail for the past six years is now reportedly suffering from severe mental stress and called for immediate action to be taken about her serious mental condition which might induce her to harm herself,” Dr. Naleemi said.
In a related development, Faizer Mackeen Rizana’s a trustee of a local mosque said the court must commute the death sentence to imprisonment since the father of the dead infant has already pardoned the maid. “Under the Sharia Law, the father has the sole right to his children, and if he has decided to pardon the maid the court will have to do it.
To do this the consent of the mother is not needed,” said Mr. Mackeen who is the Trustee of the Henamulla Jumma mosque in Panadura. He said the authorities must initiate court proceedings as soon as possible as any delay could lead to the maid’s execution.
“The defence has a good case. The question is, are the authorities interested?” Mr. Mackeen who is also the Secretary of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) said.
His views were endorsed by Dr. M. G. M. S. Zurfick with Falcon International who said if the father had pardoned the maid then the death sentence could be commuted.
He said he had also written to Sheikh Mansour the Director General in the Saudi Ministry of Justice explaining the maid’s case and her health conditions and sought his intervention to commute her death sentence.
Source: Sunday Times 10th July 2011

Saudi law is not Sharia- Mujibur Rahman

July 8th By Rifthi Ali Saudi Arabian law is not Islamic Sharia law and the Saudi Government can release Sri Lankan house maid Rizana Nafeek, United National Party (UNP) Western Province Councilor Mujibur Rahman said yesterday at a demonstration held in front of Davatagaha Jumma mosque in Colombo.
He said that the Saudi king should recommend Rizana’s release.
The demonstration was held after the Jummah prayers yesterday and the demonstrators called for the release of Rizana Nafeek who is in the death row in Saudi for allegedly causing the death of a four-month-old infant in her care.
The demonstrators marched up to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Colombo.
A house maid can not be employed as a baby sitter. This is a grave offence and the offenders be punished, Mujibar Rahman said.
“We are ready to pay the blood money for the release of Rizana,” he added. UNP Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake who was also at the protest said that the government had not done anything worthwhile to have Rizana released.
Not a single Muslim Minister or the External Affairs Minister had gone to Saudi Arabia to plead for Rizana’s life, he accused.
Mr. Ramanayake told that the foreign employment agent who sent the under-aged girl Rizana to Saudi Arabia as a housemaid with a fake passport had not been black listed or arrested by the authorities.
Source: Daily  Mirror  July 8th