The Sri Lankan Police in 1992 arrested a 14-year-old boy from Aalangkea’ni in Ki’n’n’iyaa, as second accused in a case indicting him for a bomb blast that had claimed the lives of 6 Muslims from Moothoor in August 1990. The young accused, Thangarajah Sivakantharajah, was detained by the Sri Lankan Police under Emergency Regulations (ER) for 12 years and was released in July 2003 on surety bail. 24 years after the alleged crime, Sivakantharajah, now aged 36 and a married man, has been sentenced to death by Trincomalee High Court on Friday February 7. Sivakantharajah was ordered to report to the Chinabay Police every Sunday.
The Order, based on a confession furnished in Sinhala, amongst others by a Senior Superintendent of Police who is no more, has come as a shock to the Tamil community in Trincomalee.
Sivakantharasa is from Aalangkea’ni in Ki’n’niyaa.
Death Penalty also known as capital punishment has been abolished in 139 countries. Right to life of everyone is enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although ‘death penalty’ is there in Law in Sri Lanka it is not implemented.
Sivakantharajah had been in detention for several years without being indicted and from the time of his indictment to the date of sentence more than 20 years have passed.
According to legal opinion his ‘right to be tried without undue delay’ and possibly ‘right to fair trial’ as under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its Protocols to which Sri Lanka is a signatory, may possibly have been breached.
Similar views were expressed by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council based in Geneva in the matter of Nallaratnam Singarasa (Communication Number 1033/2001) also from Sri Lanka. However the genocidal Sri Lankan regime has not fulfilled its obligations.
Legal experts further opine that in the light of ‘Children and Young Persons Ordinance’ of Ceylon, a Person alleged to have committed the offence at the age of 12 years should have been produced in a Juvenile Court without delay and dealt with.
The legal experts further cite the recent case of the female medical student whose brutal rape inside a bus in Delhi resulted in her death. There the juvenile accused was dealt with separately as from the adult accused persons who were sentenced to death.
Further the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child stated under Article 37 that persons below the age of 18, known as child offenders, shall be exempted from capital punishment.
The question arises as to whether the authorities could keep the child offender deliberately in Prison without charging him in a court of law and delaying the proceedings in the court until he becomes an adult.