Sri Lanka has started advertising for executioners after the country’s President declared he would reinstate the death penalty.
Candidates must be Sri Lankan men aged between 18 and 45, have “excellent moral character” and a “very good mind and mental strength,” according to the newspaper ad issued by Sri Lanka’s commissioner general of prisons.
No one has been executed in Sri Lanka since the South Asian nation placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1976. While murder, rape, and drug trafficking and distribution are still considered capital crimes, sentences are routinely commuted to life imprisonment.
The country’s last hangman resigned in 2014, having never carried out an execution, according to Reuters.
However last week President Maithripala Sirisena told parliament that the death penalty would be reinstated within two months for those convicted of drug offenses as part of a Philippines-style crackdown, local media reported.
Sirisena praised Philippine President Roderigo Duterte’s brutal and bloody war on drugs, calling it an “example to the world” during a state visit in January.
“The war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world – and personally to me. Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard,” Sirisena said at a state banquet alongside Duterte, according to Philippine news site Rappler.
At least 5,000 people have been killed as a result of Duterte’s drug war, his landmark and most controversial policy. That figure is the official police count, however, and opposition lawmakers and rights groups estimate the true death toll could be much higher, including children and innocent civilians.
Sirisena’s move to reinstate the death penalty has come under heavy criticism from human rights groups, who warn that the brutal scenes playing out on Philippine streets could become a daily reality in Sri Lanka.
“Would he like to see Sri Lanka’s most impoverished neighbourhoods become places where people awake each morning to find fresh corpses lying on the streets in pools of blood? Or where, in the name of protecting a younger generation, dozens of children, some as young as four and five, have been killed in the violence?” Amnesty International Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich said in a statement.
“Does he want security forces reduced to a criminal enterprise that sponsors private killers, the rule of law to lose all meaning, and a mere allegation to mean the difference between life and death?”