A member of the international advisory panel of experts, appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to probe alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lanka Forces and the LTTE and the missing persons, says the President should not be ‘selective’ in releasing the five convicted fishermen while leaving out the three Sri Lankan fishermen, who were sentenced to death on the same day and charges, due to pressure applied by the Indian Government.
Padma Shri Kaushal, a renowned human rights activist, told Ceylon Today, just to maintain the good relationship with India and being under pressure, President Rajapaksa should not be selective in this manner. “Releasing and pardoning the fishermen is a welcome step by the President but he should release and pardon the Sri Lankans also. All these eight people were given capital punishment by the High Court for the same crime on the same day,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that the Sri Lankan convicts have not been pardoned and released and it is discrimination.” Kaushal also feels that capital punishment should be abolished from all over the world as it is inhuman. “The relatives of the three local fishermen death row should approach advocates and work out on their release too.”
Prof. Kaushal, who also lobbies for the abolition of death penalty in India and world said, Sri Lanka, from the year 1976 had never hanged a convict and the President should use his power and abolish death sentence altogether.
Colombo High Court judge Preethi Surasena convicted eight men after finding them guilty. The eight fishermen were arrested in November 2011 off the island’s northern coast carrying heroin. (Ceylon Today)