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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2589

Sri Lanka needs hangmen after resuming capital punishment

By Mohamed Rasooldeen - Arab News
Colombo:

The Sri Lankan government is on the hunt for executioners following its decision to bring back capital punishment.
A job advertisement published in the country’s state-run newspaper is seeking two people of “very good mind and mental strength” to fill the newly created posts.

The move follows President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to reinstate the death penalty within the next two months.

According to the advert, published on behalf of Sri Lanka’s Department of Prisons, the ideal candidates need to be aged between 18 and 45 with a basic education.

And the successful applicants will earn a generous $290 per month, an amount well above average for a public sector job in the country.

Sri Lanka’s prisons spokesman, Thushara Upuldeniya, told Arab News that his department had placed the advertisement on Feb. 11 but had not yet received any applications. The final date for applying for the executioner posts is Feb. 25.

Upuldeniya said that any applicants selected will have to undergo a viva voce test (oral examination).

“In addition to mental strength, the personality and physical strength of the applicant will also be taken into consideration,” he added.

During an address to the Sri Lankan Parliament last week, Sirisena said that those convicted of drug-related offenses will be the first to be sent to the gallows.

The president believes that punishment by state execution is the best way to combat the country’s drugs crisis. Sirisena’s decision is seen by some as mirroring Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s approach to crime, and could lead to 25 people, including two drug dealers, facing execution.

A list of detainees convicted of drug-related crimes was handed to Sri Lanka’s Presidential Secretariat on Jan. 25. There are an additional 436 people, including six women, on death row for crimes including murder.

A predominantly Buddhist country, Sri Lanka voted in favor of a UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty in 2015.

Sri Lanka’s judiciary imposes capital punishment, but the death penalty has not been implemented since June 23, 1976. The government reinstated the punishment for killings, rape, and drug trafficking in 2004 following the murder of a high court judge.

At present two jails in the country, Welikada and Bogambara, are equipped to carry out capital punishment whenever a presidential order is received.

However, finding the right people for the job of executioner seems an uphill task, at least for now.

After searching for an executioner for three years, Sri Lanka’s prison department appointed a hangman in 2014. He was given a week’s training, but on seeing the gallows for the first time, became distressed and immediately resigned.

Meanwhile, an official told Arab News that a new noose is being imported, as the current one had served its time.

The Sri Lanka Standards Institution said it had already requested the Foreign Ministry to order a noose from Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh or India. The previous one was gifted by Pakistan in 2015.

- Asian Tribune –

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena. (REUTERS)
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