COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – Sri Lankan prison authorities are recruiting two hangmen after the president pledged to end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment and execute condemned drug traffickers amid alarm over drug-related crime in this Indian Ocean island nation.
Interviews of the candidates will be conducted next month and two will be hired, prison department spokesman Thushara Upuldeniya said yesterday.
The advertisement that appeared in the state-run Daily News on Monday said applicants should have “an excellent moral character” and should pass a test conducted to check the “mind and mental strength”.
The candidates must be Sri Lankan men between 18 and 45. Their monthly salary would be Sri Lankan rupees 36,410.
The move to hire hangmen comes after President Maithripala Sirisena said executions will resume in the next two months for condemned drug traffickers, vowing to be tough on drug offenders and modelling his country’s drug fight after the Philippines.
Sirisena visited the Philippines in January and praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug crackdown as “an example to the world”. Thousands of suspects have been killed since Duterte took office in 2016, and rights groups have denounced the killings as extrajudicial executions.
Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. At the time, prisoners were hanged.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a religion which advocates non-violence.
Sirisena has said while the country has had positive influences from all religions, tough law enforcement is necessary to curb crime and maintain order.
Recent large seizures of narcotics have raised suspicions that the country has become a smuggling hub.
Sri Lanka has 1,299 prisoners facing death sentences, including 48 convicted of drug offences.
Police have intensified efforts to crack down on drugs, seizing 90 kilogrammes of heroin from a luxury apartment in Colombo last month. Two Americans, two Sri Lankans and an Afghan were arrested. On Tuesday, a total 110 kilogrammes of drugs were seized from two locations near the capital.
Giada Girelli, a human rights analyst with the Harm Reduction International drug policy research group, said previously there is no evidence executions would effectively deter drug use or trafficking.