Neither the Presidential Secretariat nor the Ministry of Justice and Prison Reforms, has informed the Prisons Department with regard to implementing the death penalty as declared by President Maithripala Sirisena, a senior prison official told Daily Mirror.
He said the Department had sent a list to the Justice Ministry, comprising of 18 inmates who had been convicted to death penalty, out of which the President had signed the documents for the execution of four drug offenders. However, we have not yet been informed about the four convicts and the date of the execution.
Meanwhile, he said the actions on the death penalty had been temporarily halted following the petitions filed against it.
When asked about the hangmen, he said two hangmen had been selected and finalized but they are not yet assigned work. Nevertheless, he said there was no necessity to bring a new rope from abroad as the existing one is firm and suitable for the purpose. 79 candidates from the 102 applicants were selected for interviews for executioners post last year. They were selected after having undergone physical, mental examination and a written test.
The Prisons Department began calling for applications for the post of two hangmen after the President emphasized on several occasions that the death penalty would be implemented on those found guilty of drug-related offences.
President Maithripala Sirisena first stated on July 11, 2018 that he would endorse the plans to begin capital punishment following an alarming rise in the drug trade.
However, it was not implemented despite remarks made by the President.
Addressing media heads at the President’s House President Sirisena said on June 26 that he had signed the documents for the execution of four major level drug offenders that it would be carried out soon.
After independence, then Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike abolished capital punishment in 1956. However, it was reintroduced after his assassination in 1959. Records show that the year 1976 marked the last occasion when a person was subject to death penalty in Sri Lanka.(Sheain Fernandopulle)