Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

Sri Lankan Prime Minister proposes to end death penalty

Sri Lankan Prime Minister proposes to end death penalty

Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty in the lead up to the execution of four drug convicts.

The proposed bill would abolish the death sentence in the future and commute the sentences of those already on death row to life imprisonment. The bill was introduced to parliament on Thursday and will take a vote in 14 days if no one challenges it will pass.

This, however, is unlikely as President Sirisena is a vocal opponent claiming that those who oppose executions oppose building a decent county. The Washington Post further reports that Sirisena has described narcotics as “the root cause of all other major crimes” and he views the decision to execute prisoners “for the betterment of future generations”.

Sirisena has claimed that his position was influenced by what he views as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s successful “war on drugs”.

Sri Lanka’s stance on the death penalty has been widely panned by the international community.

The European Union has stated that if Sri Lanka moves towards implementing the death penalty it will be in contradiction with its commitments to the UN General Assembly to maintain a 43-year moratorium on the death penalty.

The EU has warned this may send the wrong signals to the international community and investors. Sri Lanka is currently a beneficiary of the GSP+ agreement with the EU which enables a preferential trade scheme but is dependent upon Sri Lanka fulfilling its commitments to human rights.

Wickremesinghe has stated that he opposes the death penalty and the under the coalition government Sri Lanka supported a UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty in 2016 and 2018.

The Sri Lanka government has not had formally hanged a prisoner since  1976 even though courts routinely pass death sentences. – Tamil Guardian, 2/8/2019

Sri Lanka – Looking for new hangmen after no executions for 43 years

Sri Lanka advertises for new hangmen after reintroducing capital punishment

Island nation looks to carry out first execution for 43 years in Duterte-inspired drug trafficking crackdown

An advert searching for executioners was placed in Sri Lanka’s state-run Daily News newspaper on Monday

An advert searching for executioners was placed in Sri Lanka’s state-run Daily News newspaper on Monday ( Reuters )

Sri Lanka began advertising for hangmen this week after the country reinstated capital punishment, inspired by the Philippines’ hard-line approach to drug trafficking.

The last execution in Sri Lanka took place 43 years ago, but president Maithripala Sirisena said last week he wants to restore the death penalty for drug traffickers in the next two months.

During a state visit to the Philippines in January, Mr Sirisena praised president Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”, which has drawn international criticism after the deaths of thousands of people and allegations of extrajudicial killings by police.

Drug trafficking is a capital offence in Sri Lanka, although no one has been executed for any crime in the country since 1976, with all death penalties commuted to life in prison since then.

The country’s last hangman quit in 2014 without ever having to execute anyone, citing stress after seeing the gallows for the first time. Another hired last year never turned up for work.

But, anticipating that capital punishment could soon be used again, the prison service is now hurrying to recruit two new executioners.

We never know if the government will resume the death penalty, but we want to hire two hangmen to fill vacancies and be ready if the government wants to execute drug traffickers,” Thushara Upuldeniya, a spokesman for the prison service, said.

An advertisement published in the state-run Daily News on Monday put the monthly pay at 36,310 rupees (£158), above average for a government job.

Candidates should be Sri Lankan, male, aged between 18 and 45, and have both “excellent moral character” and “mental strength”, the advert said.

Mr Upuldeniya said the job interviews will be conducted next month, while at least 25 people convicted for drugs offences, including two drug dealers, could be executed.

There were also 436 people, including six women, on death row for various crimes including murder, he added.

Government officials said Mr Sirisena has sought advice from the Philippines on how to combat drug trafficking, amid mounting concerns that Sri Lanka could become a transit hub for the narcotics trade in Asia.

Police have arrested more than 50 people since the middle of last year after busting a drug smuggling ring.

Additional reporting by Reuters – Independent, 13/2/2019

Sri Lanka – Government may end 42 year old moratorium on executions

Sri Lanka leader vows to end moratorium on death penalty

  • By bharatha mallawarachchi, associated press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Jul 23, 2018, 3:32 AM ET


Sri Lanka’s president said the government will still end its 42-year moratorium on capital punishment despite requests by the European Union and other diplomatic missions not to do so.

President Maithripala Sirisena said the decision to implement the death penalty for drug smugglers “will not be changed under any circumstance and despite the objections raised by some factions against the move,” according to the president’s website.

Rising crime in Sri Lanka, including gang-related killings, narcotics, robberies and sex crimes have led to a public outcry for executions.

Last week, Sirisena said convicted drug traffickers will be hanged as a part of a crackdown on narcotics. The government has said it will execute prisoners who have allegedly taken advantage of the moratorium to continue their drug trade from prison. Drug trafficking carries the death penalty in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has maintained the moratorium since its last execution in 1976.

No date has been set for the first new execution. More than 400 convicts now in prison were sentenced to death, although many have had their sentences commuted to life or are appealing. Of them, 18 were sentenced for drug-related crimes.

Sirisena said he would summon judiciary, prisons and law enforcement heads this week to appoint a committee to decide who should be executed.

The government’s decision to end the moratorium drew reaction from the European Union delegation and embassies of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Canada and Norway which asked Sirisena to maintain the moratorium and to uphold Sri Lanka’s tradition of opposition to capital punishment.

The embassies stressed they oppose capital punishment “in all circumstances and in all cases” and that the death penalty is incompatible with human dignity, does not have any proven deterrent effect, and allows judicial errors to become fatal and irreversible. – ABC News, 23/7/2018

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