Colombo (Sri Lanka), June 26: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said on Wednesday the government would press ahead with a controversial plan to reinstate the death penalty for drug-related offences.
“I have already signed death penalty for four (convicts). It will be implemented soon and we have already decided the date as well,” Sirisena told reporters in Colombo, without elaborating on the date or the names of the convicts.
The last execution in Sri Lanka was 43 years ago, and Sri Lanka’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.
Despite international condemnation of a crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena during his Philippines visit had told Duterte that he wanted to “follow your footsteps to control this hazard”.
International drug smugglers have increasingly turned to Sri Lanka as a transit hub in Asia, authorities there have said.
Predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka voted in favour of a UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty in 2015, but Sirisena said last year he wanted convicted traffickers caught arranging drugs deals from jail to be executed.
In the Philippines, Police say that since 2016, they have killed at least 5,000 suspected drug dealers, although activists say the number could be far higher and they dispute official accounts that the killings were all in self-defence.
(Wion With inputs from agencies)