Sri Lanka hangmen ‘ready for the job’ as moratorium ends

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena ended a 43-year moratorium on executions recently. (AP/File)
Updated 04 July 2019

Sri Lanka hangmen ‘ready for the job’ as moratorium ends

  • The executioners will await the president’s green light to carry out the death penalty on the four convicts

COLOMBO: Two hangmen appointed by the Sri Lankan government following moves to resume capital punishment in the country “have been fully trained for the job,” a prison official told Arab News on Wednesday.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena ended a 43-year moratorium on executions recently when he signed the death warrants for four convicts jailed for drug offenses.

Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry, told Arab News that the two executioners have received comprehensive training inside the prison.

“Now they are ready for the job,” he said.

The executioners will await the president’s green light to carry out the death penalty on the four convicts. In the meantime, the prisoners can appeal for clemency and their next of kin will be told the date of the executions, Jayasinghe said.

The two executioners were selected from more than 100 applicants after the government advertised the posts recently.

Jayasinghe said that the hangmen’s identities would not be revealed.

“It’s good to keep their names secret so that the public and even their own family members don’t know they are hangmen,” he added.

According to information obtained by Arab News, up to 20 prisoners — eight Muslims, eight Tamils and four Sinhalese — could face the death penalty for drug offenses.

Sirisena told a public meeting on Tuesday that he is determined to carry out the executions to save the nation from “a narcotics scourge.”

“I will not bow to local or international pressure to reverse my decision to execute these convicts. I know what my country needs and it has to be rid of people who destroy the country,” he said, referring to illicit drug smugglers.

More than 60 percent of the 24,000 people inside Sri Lanka’s prisons are drug offenders, Sirisena said.

The president said that capital punishment was needed against “big-time illicit drug smugglers for the sake of the younger generation of the country.”


‘Clear risks’ for stability in China’s Pacific lending, Australian think tank warns

Updated 27 min 12 sec ago

‘Clear risks’ for stability in China’s Pacific lending, Australian think tank warns

SYDNEY: China’s financial largesse in the Pacific carries “clear risks” for stability if left unchecked, a Sydney think tank warned, while saying allegations of “debt-trap” diplomacy are so far overblown.
In a study released Monday, the influential Lowy Institute warned that fragile Pacific nations risked borrowing too much and leaving themselves exposed to demands from Beijing.
China has repeatedly been accused of offering lucrative but unserviceable loans to gain leverage or snap up strategically vital assets like ports, airports, or electricity providers.
While Lowy said allegations that China was engaged in “debt-trap” diplomacy in the Pacific were overblown, the trend was not positive and countries like Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu were dangerously exposed.
Between 2011 and 2018, China committed loans to the region worth $6 billion — around 21 percent of regional GDP.
A majority of that money, $4.1 billion, was earmarked for Papua New Guinea.
Only a fraction, less than $1 billion, has so far been dispersed but China is still the single largest creditor in Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu.
“The sheer scale of Chinese lending and the lack of strong institutional mechanisms to protect the debt sustainability of borrowing countries mean a continuation of business as usual would pose clear risks,” the report said.
The South Pacific has become a forum for intense competition for influence between China, the United States, and Australia in recent years.
The island nations sit on a vital shipping crossroad, contain vast reserves of fish stocks, and provide a potential base for leading militaries to project power well beyond their borders.
Beijing has stepped up engagement in the region through a series of high profile visits and no-conditions lending via its Belt and Road Initiative.
The Solomon Islands and Kiribati recently announced they would switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing after a long courtship by the country’s Communist leaders.
Six Pacific governments are currently debtors to Beijing — the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Lowy said many of China’s loans carry a modest two percent annual interest rate.
But it warned that China would need to adopt formal lending rules if loans were to be made sustainable as natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis can quickly upend countries’ ability to pay back loans.
“Three small Pacific economies — Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu — also appear to be among those most heavily indebted to China anywhere in the world,” it said.