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Sri Lankan president blames social media for ‘increase in murders and rapes’

The Sri Lankan president blamed the use of “social websites and illegal drugs” for an apparent increase in murders and rapes, as he pledged to sign orders to execute the death penalty on the island.

Speaking in Kandy on Wednesday, Mr Sirisena stated that “some social websites and use of illegal drugs have caused an increase in murders and rapes”.

“It is the responsibility of the government as well as the parents to give priority to save children from these evils,” he added, according to the official President’s Media Division.

His statement comes as Sri Lanka's ministry of Buddhasasana announced that the cabinet had decided to implement it, and to include 19 prisoners currently on death row.

“Although there are certain opinions regarding capital punishment in a Buddhist society, if large number of criminal acts spread in such a society despite religious sermons, it will be necessary to take some timely actions to control crime,” Mr Sirisena added.

The decision to execute capital punishment has been criticised by Amnesty International, who called on Sri Lanka to withdraw its plans.

In 2015, despite Sri Lanka telling the UN Human Rights Council that it would "maintain the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its ultimate abolition", Mr Sirisena said that he would look to approve capital punishment on the island.