Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, center, examines a consignment of cocaine seized at a container yard in Colombo on June 14, 2016. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019

Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

  • The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment
  • President Maithripala Sirisena says narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s president said on Wednesday that he has ordered the executions of four drug offenders who will be hanged in prison soon, amid alarm over drug-related crimes in this Indian Ocean island nation.
The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment.
President Maithripala Sirisena told a media discussion on Wednesday that he has signed the death warrants including the days of the executions and sent them to prison authorities.
He said narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts. According to Sirisena, 60 percent of 24,000 inmates have been jailed for drug-related offenses. Sri Lanka prisons are built to accommodate 11,000 people.
Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. Currently, 1,299 prisoners are on death row, including 48 convicted of drug offenses.
Prison authorities are now in the process of recruiting two hangmen after two others quit without executing anyone.
At present, 26 people have been shortlisted for a two-day training, said Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry.
Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, which authorities believe is used by peddlers as a transit hub.
Rights groups and foreign governments including the EU have previously criticized Sirisena’s suggestions to revive the death penalty, saying there is no perfect criminal justice system and the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.
Sirisena, who visited the Philippines in January, praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs as “an example to the world.” Thousands of suspects, mostly urban poor, have been slain since Duterte took office in 2016. Rights groups have denounced what they say are extrajudicial killings. Police say most of the suspects were killed in encounters with officers.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a religion that advocates non-violence. Sirisena has previously said the country has had positive influences from all religions but tough law enforcement is necessary to curb crime and maintain order.
In April, police publicly destroyed 770 kilograms (1,695 pounds) of drugs seized in 2016 and 2017. Police have seized 731 kilograms (1,608 pounds) of heroin, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine and 1,607 kilograms (3,535 pounds) of marijuana so far this year.
Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in Sri Lanka, followed by heroin and cocaine. Drug-related arrests rose 2 percent in 2017 from the previous year to 81,156.


Trump says next G7 summit won't be at his Miami golf resort

This file photo taken on April 03, 2018 shows a view of the entrance of Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Trump says next G7 summit won't be at his Miami golf resort

  • Trump cited what he termed “Crazed and Irrational Hostility” from Democrats and the news media in explaining the reversal

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump late Saturday abandoned plans to host next year’s Group of Seven economic summit of leaders of developed nations at his Florida golf resort, after Democrats and others decried the decision as evidence of the president misusing his office for personal gain.
In a series of tweets, Trump said he would drop the plan announced Thursday by White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump cited what he termed “Crazed and Irrational Hostility” from Democrats and the news media in explaining the reversal. “We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately,” he wrote.