Principles and values are rapidly deteriorating in our society. The craving for power and wealth overrides everything else and crime has escalated in leaps and bounds.
The last Sri Lankan to be executed for a heinous crime was Embilipitiya Chandradasa alias Hondapapuwa, who was hanged on June 22, 1976. Since that year, the death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment. It could be argued that this is the main cause for the escalation of crime and lawlessness in our country.
However, the death penalty has not been abolished. It has only been made administratively ineffective. But it is tantamount to a mockery of the law to commute a death sentence to life imprisonment.
With the laxity of the law, we see murderers walking out of court, smiling with their lawyers, knowing that for the next few years they will be enjoying free lodging and free food at the expense of the rate-payer. Usually these life sentences are reduced to a mere seven to 10 years in prison.
Since 1976, this liberal policy of granting remissions and presidential pardons has resulted in many a convicted criminal rejoining society. Most of these criminals join the underworld or become stooges of politicians.
My view is that the punishment meted out to the offender should be of the same magnitude and severity as the crime committed. It is only then that the scales of justice will be balanced.
The politicians have a vital role to play in combating crime. They should allow the appropriate authorities to execute justice and punish offenders.
Police officers in particular should enforce the law and not allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians.