Colombo, July 11 (newsin.asia) – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has agreed to implement the death penalty on drug traffickers including those who are already facing the death sentence in prisons across the country, Minister of of Buddhasasana, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, quoted by local media said Wednesday.
Minister Perera said the cabinet of ministers had taken a collective decision to impose the death sentence considering the recent rise in drug related murders and a large amount of drug imports planned by drug traffickers who were already in prison custody.
Following cabinet approval, President Maithripala Sirisena had instructed Justice and Prison Reforms Minister Thalatha Atukorale to prepare the draft bill to implement the death sentence.
Cabinet Spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne told a weekly media briefing on Wednesday that initially 19 convicts had been identified and the President would sign the documents to implement the death penalty on them.
Senaratne stressed that there was a need to implement the death penalty to curb the spread of crimes related to drugs.
Although capital punishment is a legal penalty in Sri Lanka, there have been no executions carried out since June 23, 1976, although death sentences were handed down continuously by the High and Supreme Courts for murder and drug trafficking convictions.
These were automatically commuted to life in prison.
The Sri Lankan government, recently stated that the island country had become a transit point for major drug cartels as a consequence of the prolonged illicit activities of the Tamil Tiger rebels who were militarily defeated by government troops in May 2009 following a 30 year civil conflict.
The government has stated the geographical location of Sri Lanka unfortunately made the island a very efficient and strategically placed locality for major drug cartels to utilize as a transit destination during drug smuggling operations.
Last week, Sri Lanka’s Police Narcotics Bureau seized 103.9 kilograms of heroin worth Rs.1.2 billion, an estimated US 7.5 million dollars, in one of the department’s biggest drug busts ever.
In 2016, Sri Lanka’s Police Narcotics Bureau detected over 900 kilograms of cocaine from an Indian bound ship which was docked at the Colombo port.
This haul was the largest cocaine seizure recorded in South Asia with an estimated value of Rs. 12 billion, an estimated 76 million US dollars.