Sri Lanka to reinstate capital punishment, says president

Sirisena launched a nationwide campaign against drug abuse 10 days ago. (AFP)
Updated 12 February 2019
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Sri Lanka to reinstate capital punishment, says president

  • Country’s drug problem needs a tough approach, Sirisena tells Parliament

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is reinstating capital punishment, with those convicted of drug-related crimes the first to be hanged.

President Maithripala Sirisena told Parliament this week that the country’s drug problem needed a tough approach and that action needed to be taken against offenders.

Last month he praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for his war on drugs, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to rights groups condemning the extrajudicial killings at the hands of police and mob justice.

He visited the Philippines in January and said he intended to follow Duterte’s example. Duterte extended his cooperation to the president in tackling the issue.

Sirisena launched a nationwide campaign against drug abuse 10 days ago. A new train service and a presidential task force have been set up as part of a drug eradication program.

There are 18 inmates convicted of drug-related offenses out of the 376 people on death row, according to prison authorities. Death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment due to the 43-year moratorium on capital punishment.

Last month, two Bangladeshis were nabbed with a massive drug haul: 272 kg of heroin and 5 kg of cocaine. This incident was followed by three Bangladeshi women being caught in a similar operation in Colombo. 

On Wednesday 31 Sri Lankan drug dealers were caught in Dubai.

Analyst and Western Province Gov. M. Azath S. Salley said that bringing back executions was a step in the right direction. 

“Sirisena is concerned about students, who will be the future generation of this country,” he told Arab News. “He wants a healthy generation to grow on this soil and the country will learn a lesson from the death sentence carried out on all drug dealers.”

B.M. Murshideen, president of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Foundation, also supported the government’s decision. He told Arab News it would control the increasing number of drug-related offenses reported during recent months.

But lawyer and human rights activist Sajeewani Abeyakone was unconvinced. “I am not in favor of it. Such offenders should be rehabilitated in a special camp,” she told Arab News.

Sirisena completes his five-year term next January and is confident about participating in presidential polls before then.

As leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, he commands healthy support among the electorate and polled around 6 million votes in the previous election to defeat his rival Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is now the leader of the opposition.

Although Sirisena has declared his intention to take part in the polls, candidates from other parties have not yet announced their interest in running, giving him an edge over the competition.


Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

Updated 20 min 12 sec ago
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Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

  • Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory

LISBON: Portugal has suspended the issuance of entry visas for Iranian nationals for unspecified security reasons, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Answering a question from a committee member on whether such a move had been taken, Santos Silva said during the televised meeting: “Yes, we suspended those for security reasons ... I will provide explanations later, but not publicly.”
“Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory,” he added, without disclosing when the decision was taken.
The chairman declared the meeting closed after about two hours without further off-camera testimony.
Joao Goncalves Pereira, the lawmaker from the conservative CDS-PP party who asked the question, told Reuters: “We received information that visas for Iranians had been suspended for two or three weeks, and we just wanted to confirm that.”
He would not say what was the source of that original information or whether any Iranian nationals had complained about the situation.
Foreign ministry officials had no immediate comment and nobody was available for comment in the Iranian embassy in Lisbon.