Heads of Missions (HoMs) of the European Union in Sri Lanka called for the abolishment of the death penalty on Thursday after meeting a group of government legislators.
“The HoMs reiterated their call to Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards complete abolition,” a statement from the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka said.
The statement was issued jointly with the Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania and the UK High Commission.
The EU HoMs had met legislators from the United National Party (UNP), which is in power, to discuss moves to end a 43-year moratorium on the death penalty.
“During the meeting, the HoMs restated the strong and unequivocal opposition of the EU and its Member States to capital punishment in all circumstances and in all cases,” the joint statement from the EU said.
President Maithripala Sirisena is pushing for the death penalty to be imposed on drug-related crimes, and said he has already signed four death warrants for drug dealers.
The Supreme Court has temporarily suspended the implementation of the death penalty till October 30 and is next set to hear petitions against executions on October 29.
A private member’s bill has been gazetted and will be presented by UNP parliamentarian Bandula Lal Bandarigoda in parliament to abolish the death penalty.
The EU is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners, absorbing 29.2 percent of exports, over half of which are apparel exports.
Apparel exporters in Sri Lanka have raised concerns that commencing executions could lead to Sri Lanka losing the GSP Plus preferential trade facility with the EU.