The presidential pardon made available for those convicted of murder is a blatant attack on the supremacy of the Law
We condemn the illegal and unjustifiable move by President Maithripala Sirisena of pardoning the Royal Park murder convict on death row. We believe that enabling the President of the country to overturn, with a single stroke of a pen, a sentence that has been imposed after a formal court hearing is a regrettable move that abolishes the dignity and recognition the people have on the supremacy of the Law and independence of the Judiciary. We are experiencing the result of defying the fundamental principle that “All are equal before the law” being violated by the destructive and corrupt government machinery of a set of rulers glorifying money and their social class.
It is not the first time in the history of Sri Lanka that presidential pardon has been made available for murder convicts. We should not forget that former President J.R. Jayewardene pardoning the death row prisoner Gonawala Sunil, sentenced for murder and rape, and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoning former Minister’s wife Monika Fernando convicted for murder are bitter incidents that remind us of illegal acts of Presidents in this country.
As such, this is another instance where the ruler continues to trample on the supremacy of Law and social justice. The supremacy of the Law, we believe, is one of the pillars that elevate a law-abiding and a righteous society. One of the policies we have included in our election manifesto is that “The authority given to the President to relax any sentence given by a court or any other legislative authority will be abolished.” (Page 94 of the Sinhalese version). Through this, we hope to realize the objective of making all people’s representatives, including the President, people’s servants who do not have special privileges and believe that it would contribute to making Sri Lanka a law-abiding, secured country for all citizens including women and children.
Hence, we request President Maithripala Sirisena to listen to the voice of the civil society of condemning his arbitrary process and consider repealing the decision to pardon the convict. We also request the Attorney General’s Department and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) to mediate.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake
National People’s Power