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Report says 106 on death row

The human rights organization says the death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. A report by Amnesty International released today said that 106 people were sentenced to death in Sri Lanka last year but yet Sri Lanka continued to be among the execution-free countries..Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. Official information received by Amnesty International indicated that one-hundred and six new death sentences were imposed in Sri Lanka in 2011 and 362 people were on death row at the end of the year. In late December 2011 the National Human Rights Commission announced that it intended to propose that the government abolish the death penalty. However, the Secretary to the Ministry of Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation A. Dissanayake was reported as saying that the prison authorities had already requested the approval of the Management Service Department of the Treasury to recruit a hangman and that they had received a number of applications for the post.According to Dissanayake, in late December there were nearly 750 inmates on death row, Amnesty International said. The US was once again the only executioner in the Americas. A total of 43 executions were recorded in 13 of the 34 states that retain the death penalty, a drop by a third since 2001, and 78 new death sentences were recorded in 2011, a decrease by half since 2001.  (Colombo Gazette) read more

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UN agencies to continue humanitarian work in Syria despite security challenges

In a briefing to reporters in Geneva, officials from the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) all said they would continue to carry out their operations and deliver basic supplies and services to those affected by the conflict.UNICEF spokesperson Patrick McCormick said that despite the rise in tension the agency and its partners were on the ground delivering essential services for children and their families, and would continue their efforts to meet existing and new needs.Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UNHCR said that the agency had permanent contingency plans for large numbers of displaced people.There are currently some 1,000 UN national and international staff inside Syria. Since fighting began in March 2011 between the Syrian Government and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad as many as 100,000 people have been killed, almost 2 million have fled to neighbouring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced. In addition, at least 6.8 million Syrian require urgent humanitarian assistance, half of whom are children. read more

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