Sirisena says Bill to scrap death penalty is illegal

Sri Lanka’s President said on Monday that the Attorney General has informed him that a Bill presented to Parliament last week seeking to abolish the death penalty is illegal.

Lawmaker Bandula Lal Bandarigoda presented a Bill in Parliament seeking to abolish the death penalty and commute the sentences of those already on death row to life imprisonment.

The move came after President Maithripala Sirisena signed the death warrants of four prisoners convicted of drug offences and is seen as an effort by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to stall the planned executions. The two leaders formed a unity government in 2015 and have now become rivals after a fallout.

Mr. Sirisena said at an event on Monday that AG Dappula de Livera told him that the Bill was illegal. Despite this, the Bill can still be taken up for a vote in 14 days unless it is challenged in the Supreme Court.