Colombo [Sri Lanka]: President Maithripala Sirisena called United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday and said protecting the nation and its future generations from the prolific risk of drug trafficking is the reason why he decided to implement the death penalty in Sri Lanka.
“The life of schoolchildren, university students and the youth are at risk because of the proliferation of drug trafficking. If we are to protect them, the death penalty should be carried out against drug traffickers,” Colombo Page quoted the President as saying.
“I consider those opposed to this move as people who are aiding and abetting the drug traffickers,” Sirisen added.
The phone came after the Amnesty International expressed shock after Sirisena on Wednesday announced death warrants for four drug offenders who will “very soon” become the first people to be executed in decades on the island nation.
Followingly, the European Union (EU) has reportedly criticised Sri Lanka’s move to resume executions, saying it would directly contradict the country’s commitment to maintain a 43-year moratorium on the death penalty at the UN General Assembly last year.
The EU said in a statement issued on Thursday that Sri Lanka’s planned executions will send the wrong signals to the international community and investors.
The statement added that the EU will monitor Sri Lanka’s commitments to international conventions upon which hinges a preferential trade deal with the country.
In addition, the country on Friday also reportedly hired two executioners to put the four convicts to death. The executioners were selected from a list of 100 applicants who responded to an advertisement calling for males, aged between 18 and 45, with “excellent moral character” and “mental strength”.
Last week, Sirisena announced that he had signed the documents for execution of four big-time drug operators currently convicted and awaiting death sentence, Colombo Page reported. However, no names were revealed nor any details were divulged about any scheduled executions or information on the cases except that they would take place “very soon”.
Executions for drug-related offences are unlawful. They do not meet the threshold for “most serious crimes” – such as intentional killing – to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international human rights law, Amnesty International stressed.
Sri Lanka is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which sets the abolition of the death penalty as the goal to be achieved by countries that still retain this punishment.