Parliament divided on implementing death penalty

Parliament was divided today when the death penalty was discussed with some for and others against its immediate implementation.Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra, who put forward a motion on the death penalty, noted that most people in the country feel the death penalty should not be implemented as it goes against Buddhist culture. She insisted that religion and law and two different subjects and should not be combined together as doing so will prevent the law from taking its course. Ramanayake proposed that the death penalty be made law at least for two years and then after that it can be reviewed.However Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha said that the death penalty cannot be implemented without carefully studying the issue at hand.He said that several rounds of discussions must be held with civil society and others before a final decision is taken. Meanwhile Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake, who backed the motion, said that the public and the Parliamentarians should not be misled by the motives of the motion calling for the death penalty.He said that the proposal to implement the death penalty is not to use it on normal criminals but those who rape and murder children. Parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa said that the death penalty must be implemented as a form of punishment on those who rape and murder children.However he said there needs to be conditions attached to the process when implementing the death penalty. (Colombo Gazette) “If the law is not properly implemented the country will never develop. All mothers and fathers and all those who have feelings must support the death penalty being implemented on those who rape and kill children,” she said. MP Sudharshini Fernandopulle said that laws in Sri Lanka need to be strengthened to prevent crime and the death penalty is also a must.However she said before the death penalty is implemented there is a need to address some shortcomings in the legal system, including establishing children’s courts and the option to give evidence on video.She also raised concerns over the police service saying its independence often comes into question. Parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara also agreed and said that the issue of the death penalty is a sensitive subject so it needs to be looked into carefully. read more

Security Council gravely concerned by Ebola outbreak in DR Congo demands immediate

In a statement presented by Jacek Czaputowicz, Foreign Minister of Poland, which holds the Council’s presidency for the month of August, the 15-member body emphasized the need for continued cooperation and coordination with the DRC Government to address the Ebola outbreak, as well as with the States in the region. Noting “the challenging operating environment”, the Council reiterated its appreciation for the efforts of the Government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), the African Union, humanitarian organizations, international donors and all supporting the response to contain the disease and treat Ebola patients. The Council also stressed the need for Government and civil society in affected and at-risk countries “to work urgently with relevant partners” to improve their preparedness for preventing, detecting and responding to possible cases, as well as to implement optimal vaccine strategies that have maximum impact on curtailing the outbreak.  Reiterating their serious concern regarding the security situation in the areas affected by the Ebola outbreak, particularly attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, “which is severely hampering the response efforts and facilitating the spread of the virus in the DRC and the wider region” Council members called for an immediate cessation of hostilities by all armed groups.   “The Security Council condemns in the strongest terms all attacks against and threats intentionally directed against medical personnel,” said the statement, which also spotlighted the Council’s “demand that safe and unhindered access be ensured for humanitarian and medical personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties.”   Finally, the Council emphasized the importance of strengthening international support and engagement, “including full and timely financial contributions to the response, technical assistance, scientific cooperation and human resources to bring the disease permanently and successfully under control.”  The Council’s statement comes as the wider UN and international aid community are marking of one year since the Government of the DRC declared an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in North Kivu province. Two weeks ago, it was declared a public health emergency of international concern, by WHO experts. According to the UN, in the last year, there have been more than 2,600 confirmed cases of Ebola, including more than 1,800 deaths in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces. Almost one in three ‘cases’ is a child. The virus was also discovered in the large city of eastern City of Goma on the border of Rwanda and to nearby Uganda, and violence has killed health workers. read more