11 December 2019 :
Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on 9 December 2019 extended the interim order staying the implementation of the death penalty on the prisoners who were sentenced to death for drug offenses until 20 March.
The Supreme Court on 9 December heard the fundamental rights petitions filed by various parties requesting an order staying the executions before a bench comprising Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Murdu Fernando, S.W. Thurairajah and Gamini Amarasekara.
Twelve petitions have been filed by several parties including the Center for Policy Alternatives, the prisoners in the death row and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, challenging the former President Maithripala Sirisena's decision to execute four death row prisoners, who were convicted of drug trafficking.
The bench ordered that all petitions filed in this regard will be taken up on March 17, 18 and 19. Accordingly, the injunction order staying the implementation of the death sentences was extended till 20 March.
The Supreme Court bench also directed the petitioners to amend the petitions before the next hearing as there have been changes in the persons named as respondents.
The petitioners stated that former President Maithripala Sirisena speaking at a function to commemorate the World Anti-Narcotics Day, said he would sign the death sentence for four heroin traffickers who were convicted of drug trafficking.
Petitioners state that the former President's decision to select only those involved in drug trafficking from the death penalty is a violation of the fundamental right of equal treatment under Article 12 (1) of the Constitution.
The petitioners have requested the Supreme Court to rule that the former President's decision to carry out the death penalty for a select group of prisoners is unconstitutional and to issue an interim order preventing the implementation of the death sentence on the selected prisoners.