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Sri Lanka open to hiring hangwomen, as minister stands awaiting order to execute

(Photo credit Shalini Wickramasuriya/Facebook)

A Sri Lankan minister said his government would consider hiring hangwomen for executioner posts for the first time in its history, if the order to execute was given by the president.

State Minister of Justice and Prison Affairs Anuradha Jayaratne told reporters that he does not see any reason why a woman can’t be in that position, claiming women are "already equally treated in Sri Lanka".

“One day if we start this execution and it comes to the ministry, we would consider it as long as the woman is fit and even we do consider they are fit,” Jayaratne said at a media briefing in Colombo last month

Sri Lanka hired two hangmen in July 2019, after then president Maithripala Sirisena announced an end to a death penalty moratorium. Ahead of interviews for the role, the gallows at the Welikada Prison were refurbished. The site, where the massacre of Tamil political prisoners took place during the 1983 Black July pogrom, is notorious for the endemic use of sexual violence and torture against Tamil detainees. One of the 14 applicants at the time included a former Sri Lankan soldier. "I'm angry at drug traffickers, murderers, and those who rape children, so I will not hesitate a moment if I am asked to execute them," he said. "If they are not implementing the death penalty then I will quit." Executions however did not restart.

Though the role had been described as “light administrative work”, Prisons Commissioner General Rohana Pushpakumara said, "in the event, the government wants to carry out executions, we should be prepared".

Jayaratne reiterated that they stand ready to execute if instructed. "We don’t have an issue in carrying it out," he told reporters. "It’s just a matter of giving the order.”

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