Sri Lanka approves capital punishment for drug crimes

Published: July 11, 2018 12:15:12 | Updated: July 12, 2018 11:31:26

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The Sri Lankan cabinet has unanimously approved a move to bring back capital punishment for drug-related crimes, the Times of India reports citing a senior minister.

Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, minister of the Buddhist order, said President Maithripala Sirisena had recently stated that he was under pressure to reintroduce capital punishment as a deterrent to serious crimes.

“The Cabinet in unison agreed to it. We cannot allow inmates in prison to destroy the country by directing crimes,” Perera said, adding inmates carry out drug trade while still in prison.

As most of the people approve President Sirisena’s move to reactivate capital punishment, civil society and anti-drug addiction groups say death penalty alone is insufficient to deter crimes or curb the smuggling of drugs into the country.

While many argued that punitive punishment would act as a caution to would-be offenders, others said it would only net small-scale drug dealers while major dealers would escape with the help of powerful politicians.

Alcohol and Drug Information Centre Executive Director Pubudu Sumanasekera said there was no scientifically-based evidence that capital punishment acted as a deterrent to crime. “This is not an option. We believe in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation,” he said.

Although capital punishment is in the statute, Sri Lanka had stopped hangings since 1976. Death row prisoners spend life terms in jail.

Executions have not been carried out as successive presidents in office since 1978 have refused to issue death warrants.

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