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Sri Lanka’s unofficial death penalty – The Island

[MISC, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 22:03 No Comment]

I have been following the debate on whether to implement the Death Penalty or not. Whilst this has been going on, there have been several reports of extra-judicial murders, of men found riddled with bullets with mouths gagged and hands tied behind their backs. Whodunnit is the question that needs to be asked. As in the past few decades, do we continue to have "Death Squads" with the "Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies" mentality? At one time these squads were known as "Kalu Poosas" or "Black Cats". Bodies, of people tortured and murdered were found everywhere – on beaches, in paddy fields, floating in rivers, and burnt beyond recognition in tyre pyres.

Then, we also have vigilante killings. Suspects are turned on by frenzied mobs and beaten to death. The actual murderer may be part of such a mob. Who knows? A dead man can’t defend himself.

In recent times, entire families have been murdered. There have been many instances when one or the other parents has killed his or her children and committed suicide over petty family disputes.

Young girls, even a two year old toddler, have been raped, mutilated and killed.

The law’s delays and a low conviction rate of 4% cannot be totally blamed. What has happened to this island of once gracious, smiling, charming people? We cannot blame it on "Adults Only" films, or even on alcoholic drinks and smoking. These were there even in the good old days when a murder was so rare that the entire trial used to be in the newspapers, e.g. the Sathasivam case or the Ingram case.

What is to blame is the culture of impunity that exists in the country where goon squads of politicians, are permitted to run amok, and coarse unrefined men contest elections.

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