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Sri Lankan President vows to use death penalty before leaving office

Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, has vowed to hang at least one drug dealer before he leaves office; conditional on the Supreme Court ruling in his favour and repealing the 43-year-old hiatus on the use of the death penalty for drug offences.

In July of this year, Sri Lanka's Supreme Court order temporarily postponed the trial and possible execution of four people until October 30. The court will hear their case the day prior.

Over a hundred human rights organisations have spoken out against Sri Lanka’s return to the death penalty.

Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International, stated;

“The taking of a human life by the state is one of the gravest acts a government can commit. The severity of the punishment as a minimum requires complete transparency as a key safeguard of due process.”

Read more here: Over a hundred human rights organisations call on Sri Lanka to end its death penalty for drug offences

Sri Lanka currently has 24,000 people incarcerated, 60 per cent are arrested on drug-related offences. There are 1,229 inmates on death row and 48 are being convicted of drug offences.  

During a rally Sirisena claimed:

"There are cases filed against my decision. But if the court gives a favourable decision, I will surely hang at least one. I am doing them for the future of youth.”

He further stated that Sri Lanka’s future leaders would need to invest more heavily in education; conflating drug use with intelligence.

During the rally he claimed; 

"All developed countries have invested heavily in education”

Sirisena’s war on drug draws parallels with Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, in January of this year he said to the Philippine president;

“the war against crime and drugs carried out by you [President Duterte] is an example to the whole world, and personally to me. Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard.”

Read more here: Sirisena wishes to replicate Duterte's bloody war on drugs

The EU has warned against Sri Lanka stating that it may further damage Sri Lanka’s international standing and discourage investors. Sri Lanka is currently a beneficiary of the GSP+ agreement with the EU which enables a preferential trade scheme but is dependent upon Sri Lanka fulfilling its commitments to human rights.

Read more here.