STORIES

Hangmen Wanted for Ramped-Up Drug War in Sri Lanka

By David Jenison on March 1, 2019

Job postings don't get any stranger than this.

The Sri Lankan government decided to start executing drug traffickers again and had to post a job advertisement for hangmen, according to Reuters. The last man to hang in the South Asian nation was J. M. Chandradasa on June 23, 1976, but Sri Lanka has a long history of capital punishment, and President Maithripala Sirisena revived the neck-stretching practice after a state visit to the Philippines last month. Sirisena, a Buddhist who reportedly doesn't touch meat or alcohol, was inspired by the brutal drug war currently taking place in the Philippines.

Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, but the country's last official hangman quit in 2014 before stringing anyone up, and his replacements either didn't show up to work or last very long in the position. Citing a desire to “be ready if the government wants to execute drug traffickers,” the prison service posted the ad for two new hangmen in the state-run Daily News. Interviews with men of “excellent moral character” will take place next month, and the position pays 36,310 rupees (or about USD $204) per month, which is an above-average salary for a Sri Lankan.

The Reuters report states that more than two dozen individuals (including two dealers) are currently in prison on drug offenses and could be eligible for execution. Media reports suggest the first hanging is just months away, and five drug convicts have already been selected to wear the noose.

“We have already complied with the president's request to restart capital punishment,” said Thalatha Atukorale, a female member of parliament.

Despite international pressure to stop the move, Sirisena said, “I will not bow to international non-governmental [rights] organizations and change my decision on a death penalty for drug offences.”

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