According to Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Legislators and jurors in Asian states including Sri Lanka, where the death penalty is yet to be abolished are unwilling to take the necessary steps to abolish the death penalty.
Addressing the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty at Opera House of Oslo yesterday the foreign minister said, “The unwillingness is expressed as they fear the knee-jerk reaction of a un-informed public opinion”.
According to the Minister the common challenge faced by them today is persuading the respective people. Perhaps more importantly is having the collective courage to lead by acting.
However, changing public opinion is a time consuming and resource intensive process. And the evidence points out that, despite persistent advocacy, public opinion on the subject of the death penalty is relatively static in many countries.
Therefore, overcoming this key challenge requires an act of political courage.
According to the Minister, the Momentum is slowly building in Asia, where statistically more executions take place than anywhere in the world combined.
In South-East Asia the number of executions has declined significantly, in South Asia there have been both short and long de facto moratoria.
In 2007, twenty four Asian states voted against the UN Resolution on a Death Penalty Moratorium.
In 2014 that number had declined to 18.
The Minister added that Minister of Justice has informed Parliament that Sri Lanka will return to its traditional position of voting in favor of this resolution as it did in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and, more importantly, continuing with the four decades long de facto moratorium.
During his speech, the Minister pointed out occasions, where through history measures had been taken by Sri Lanka to abolish the death penalty.