Sri Lanka: Death row prisoners win a temporary reprieve

Responding to a court decision to hold off all executions until petitions are heard after October, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik, said:

“No one should have to fear that they will be hanged. The temporary reprieve given to these death row prisoners should become permanent and their death sentences should be commuted immediately.

“The court decision comes against the backdrop of widespread opposition to plans to implement the death penalty in Sri Lanka. There has been resistance in the courts, in the media, on the streets, on social media, from all sides of parliament, and from the international community. The only sensible thing to do is to heed these voices, respect human rights and stay true to Sri Lanka’s record of shunning executions for more than four decades, and abolish the death penalty once and for all.”


Amnesty International has been campaigning against the decision of President Maithripala Sirisena to carry out executions for drug-related offences, in violation of international law.

President Sirisena said that he had signed warrants for executions that would be carried out in a matter of days.

On 5 July 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the death row prisoners should not be executed until the petitions are heard in full. The next court date is on 29 October 2019.

Amnesty International absolutely opposes the death penalty in all cases and has been involved in a sustained campaign to stop the revival of the executions in Sri Lanka since July 2018.