Conflicts & War

Outcry in Sri Lanka over president’s pardon to politician convicted of murder

Colombo, June 25 (EFE).- Sri Lanka witnessed a widespread outcry Friday over the recent decision to grant presidential pardon to a former parliamentarian convicted of murder.

Duminda Silva, sentenced to death for killing another lawmaker in 2011, was among the 93 prisoners pardoned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday.

In response, nearly 100 inmates from two of Sri Lanka’s most populated prisons – Mahara and Welikada – staged protests on Friday over the leniency shown to the politician.

“The president has done great injustice to other inmates by releasing Duminda Silva. There are inmates with much lesser crimes who requested a pardon but were not considered,” Senaka Perera, a lawyer with the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, told EFE.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has written to President Rajapaksa requesting information on the grounds on which Duminda Silva was pardoned.

Silva’s release was also criticized by the international community, including the United Nations human rights commission and the United States representative in the country.

“Presidential pardon of Duminda Silva, a former MP convicted of the murder of a fellow politician, is another example of selective, arbitrary granting of pardons that weakens rule of law and undermines accountability,” said the UN body.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Alaina Teplitz stressed that the amnesty to Silva, whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018, undermined the rule of law.

“Accountability and equal access to justice are fundamental to the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) to which the GoSL (government of Sri Lanka) has committed,” Teplitz tweeted.

Hirunika Premachandra, the daughter of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra – who was murdered by Silva – said that Rajapaksa has set a “dangerous” precedent by pardoning a murder convict.

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