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  • A Sri Lankan woman holds a placard during a protest condemning signed death sentences for four people convicted of drug-related offences.

    A Sri Lankan woman holds a placard during a protest condemning signed death sentences for four people convicted of drug-related offences. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 June 2019

President Maithripala Sirisena reinstated the death penalty to boost his chances for in the upcoming election.

One day after reinstating the death penalty in Sri Lanka, two executions have been hired, prison authorities confirmed Friday.

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The pair were chosen from 100 applicants, aged between 18 and 45 years, who eagerly awaited the execution of four prisoners convicted for drug offences.

“The recruitment process is finalised and two (hangmen) have been selected. The two need to go through final training which will take about two weeks,” prisons spokesman Thushara Upuldeniya said.

More than 40 years have past since the last state-sanctioned execution was performed. On Wednesday, President Maithripala Sirisena announced an end to a moratorium on the death penalty in force since 1976, a move political analysts said was meant to boost his chances of re-election if he stands again later this year.

“I signed the document to execute the drug offenders not with hatred and cruelty towards anyone, but to save the nation and the future generation from the drug menace, which is our worst social catastrophe,” Sirisena said.

A spokesman for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Thursday international drug control conventions cannot be used to justify the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences alone.

“Application of the death penalty may also impede international cooperation in fighting drug trafficking as there are national laws that (bar) the exchange of information and extradition with countries which may impose capital punishment for the offences concerned,” the UNODC spokesman said.

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