We all want to live a fruitful life during this short life of ours. But some don’t have the opportunity to ‘live life to the fullest’. Sri Lanka has struggled to reinforce the death penalty for a long time, but its ethical considerations have stood in the way. After the last execution, which took place in 1976, the death sentence handed to criminals in Sri Lanka in other words meant ‘rigorous life imprisonment’. However in 2004 the then Government once again decided to reinstate capital punishment for cases of rape, drug trafficking and murder following the assassination of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya. Yet significant pressure applied by those opposing capital punishment has put decision making at a standstill. With the increasing rate of crimes and particularly the cases relating to drug trafficking, the Yahapalana Government is once again considering capital punishment as the ultimate solution for certain criminal offenses. Following the news about the enforcement of the death penalty, several people were willing to take up the post of executioner. L B Karunawathi, from Averiwatta, Katunayake, is one such person who has made a public statement conveying her willingness to serve in such a capacity.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Karunawathi shared her views about capital punishment and why she wants to become an executioner.
L B Karunawathi
Pics by Kithsiri De Mel
Capital punishment is the only possible way to teach them a lesson. As a mother I’m sad to see innocent young children sacrificing their lives because of these culprits
But it’s heart-wrenching to see incidents such as what happened to Seya Sadewmi and Vidya from Jaffna. I want to stand up for justice. Where are the people who gang-raped Vidya?
Back in the day we had to walk through an estate to reach school and we never encountered any problem. But today a woman can’t walk alone in an area like that
L B Karunawathi’s residence
Q Tell us about yourself.
I’m a mother of six children, but only five of them are living today. One of them contracted rabies after being bitten by a dog and died. Another child of mine is mentally challenged and I have travelled all over the country to treat him. But I failed. Now I spend time at home with my grandchildren.
Q Why did you make such a controversial statement?
That is because of the crimes that take place today. We have never heard of such incidents in the past. Capital punishment is the only possible way to teach them a lesson. As a mother I’m sad to see innocent young children sacrificing their lives because of these culprits.
Q So you are particularly interested in hanging people who abuse and kill children?
Yes, but I’m ready to hang every person who has done injustice to this country.
Q Do you know of anybody who has committed such crimes?
No. But it’s heart-wrenching to see incidents such as what happened to Seya Sadewmi and Vidya from Jaffna. I want to stand up for justice. Where are the people who gang-raped Vidya? If it happened to one of my children I wouldn’t have been quiet like her parents. Parents send their children to school with much hope, but with these predators around, children wouldn’t survive, and it breaks my heart.
Q What would you do if you get selected as the executioner?
I’m willing to take it up, but I know I won’t get it, considering the fact that I’m a woman, my age and other criteria that have to be met.
Q Do you think a woman is eligible for this position?
Irrespective of gender, if a person has a strong mind to end the life of a person who has committed a grave crime, he or she should be given the opportunity. Even if I don’t get it, I would like to ask anybody who becomes the executioner to tighten the knot in one go and teach people a lesson.
Q Do you think that enforcing the death penalty would reduce the crime rate?
Yes, I feel that by doing so people would fear committing such crimes. This is the ultimatum. We all want to live, but there are some people who live even after killing another. I believe that those people should be hanged.
Q What do you think is the reason behind the increasing rate of crimes?
I think it’s because of drugs, alcohol and other substances that make people ‘high’. Another reason is technology. Back in the day we had to walk through an estate to reach school and we never encountered any problem. But today a woman can’t walk alone in an area like that. Those days we never heard of people arguing with one another. Life was very peaceful back then.
Q One reason for children to face such unpleasant encounters is due to parents’ negligence. What is your message to parents and children?
Both girls and boys need to be watched carefully. Always keep them in your vicinity. They have to be a priority. On the other hand, children shouldn’t hurt their parents’ feelings. Be satisfied with what you have, study and fulfill their dreams.