Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Friday stayed till October 29 the execution order passed by President Maithripala Sirisena against four drug convicts, ending a four-decade-long moratorium on the capital punishment in the country. Sirisena last month signed the death warrants to hang four drug convicts. The apex court’s order came after it took into consideration a number of petitions filed against the president’s order, that termed the order as a violation of the fundamental rights of the convicts. Also Read – Turkey preparations for Syria offensive ‘completed’There are 11 such petitions filed in various courts. One such petition was filed by M A Sumanthiran, a lawyer, claiming that Sirisena’s decision impinges on the rights of one of the drug convicts. “The case argument was that hanging would be a cruel and degrading treatment”, he said. Meanwhile, Chief of the Prisons Department H M T Tennakoon, earlier in the day informed the Court of Appeal that they are yet to receive details of the time, date and place of the executions. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi JinpingHe was appearing in the court on a petition filed by one Malinda Seneviratne against the execution order. The court has scheduled July 17 as the next date to decide whether the petition be rejected based on the preliminary objections raised against the plea. However, Tennakoon also informed the court that it will not execute anyone until the next hearing on the petition, which was filed on June 28 seeking an interim order preventing the implementation of the death sentence. Sirisena drew flak from his countrymen as well as the international community since he passed the order despite Sri Lanka having become a party to the UN moratorium on death penalty and voting in favour of the moratorium just six months back. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he and his United National Party (UNP) are opposed to the capital punishment. The British government in a statement condemned the move, saying the decision would have implications on many areas including counter-terrorism cooperation. Sirisena accused the European Union of challenging Sri Lanka’s sovereignty by threatening with tariffs if capital punishment is re-introduced in the country after 43 years. He also claimed to have turned down a telephonic call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to reconsider his decision to reintroduce death penalty.
“Indigenous peoples have repeatedly expressed their concern to me of the presence of third parties in their territories, both in and out of the regions,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya. “These parties include private settlers and agricultural, livestock and tourism, as well as miners and illegal loggers.” Mr. Anaya stressed that one of the major concerns of the seven indigenous groups in Panama is the recognition and protection of their territories and natural resources. “In Panama, the preservation and development of indigenous cultures is due in large part to the Government’s acknowledgement that they are autonomous and have their own territory in the region,” he said, adding that the Government’s official recognition of indigenous counties is an affirmation of indigenous peoples worldwide. “These developments represent a significant foundation on which to continue building and strengthening the rights of the indigenous peoples of Panama,” Mr. Anaya said. “However, during the last week I have noticed that this foundation is in many ways fragile and precarious, and there are several threats to the rights of indigenous peoples threatening the progress made in previous years.” Mr. Anaya urged the Government to cooperate with indigenous authorities to control and stop these invasions and privatization of land, including indigenous territories that are still waiting to be officially demarcated and recognized by the State. “The development of large investment projects in indigenous territories of Panama has been the subject of numerous allegations of violations of the rights of indigenous peoples, especially in recent years,” he said. “This has resulted in the loss of large areas of indigenous lands and natural resources, as well as the fragmentation of control and decision making that indigenous authorities exert on their land.” Mr. Anaya, who just finished a seven-day visit to the country, also emphasized the need to reinforce and implement policies in favour of the rights of indigenous peoples according to international standards. In particular, he stated that the creation of a national development plan for indigenous peoples could be a major advance if it is based on the aspirations of indigenous groups and if it has the necessary resources and budget to be implemented. During his visit, Mr. Anaya met in Panama City with Government officials, as well as representatives of indigenous groups and civil society. Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. Mr. Anaya will present his findings and recommendations to the Council in 2014.