Sri Lanka hangmen ‘ready for the job’ as moratorium ends

Sri Lanka hangmen ‘ready for the job’ as moratorium ends

COLOMBO: Two hangmen appointed by the Sri Lankan government following moves to resume capital punishment in the country “have been fully trained for the job,” a prison official told Arab News on Wednesday.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena ended a 43-year moratorium on executions recently when he signed the death warrants for four convicts jailed for drug offenses.

Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry, told Arab News that the two executioners have received comprehensive training inside the prison.

“Now they are ready for the job,” he said.

The executioners will await the president’s green light to carry out the death penalty on the four convicts. In the meantime, the prisoners can appeal for clemency and their next of kin will be told the date of the executions, Jayasinghe said.

The two executioners were selected from more than 100 applicants after the government advertised the posts recently.

Jayasinghe said that the hangmen’s identities would not be revealed.

“It’s good to keep their names secret so that the public and even their own family members don’t know they are hangmen,” he added.

According to information obtained by Arab News, up to 20 prisoners — eight Muslims, eight Tamils and four Sinhalese — could face the death penalty for drug offenses.

Sirisena told a public meeting on Tuesday that he is determined to carry out the executions to save the nation from “a narcotics scourge.”

“I will not bow to local or international pressure to reverse my decision to execute these convicts. I know what my country needs and it has to be rid of people who destroy the country,” he said, referring to illicit drug smugglers.

More than 60 percent of the 24,000 people inside Sri Lanka’s prisons are drug offenders, Sirisena said.

The president said that capital punishment was needed against “big-time illicit drug smugglers for the sake of the younger generation of the country.”

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