10/30/2019, 10.45
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Supreme Court blocks death penalty

President Sirisena hoped for the first hanging by the end of his term. The death penalty has been suspended for 43 years. The government has hired two executioners to hang drug pushers.

Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has blocked President Maithripala Sirisena's attempt to resume death sentences for drug traffickers. The court composed of three judges has postponed the decision to when the hearings of all the applicants will be concluded, that is not before December 10 next.

The highest judicial body has thwarted Sirisena's objective of seeing the execution of at least one of the four drug dealers for whom he signed the death sentence before the expiry of its mandate. In fact, given that the major candidates in the upcoming November 16th elections did not address the issue, the death penalty remains suspended.

The death sentence is legal in Sri Lanka, but a moratorium has been in force since 1976. So far, death sentences for drug trafficking have been commuted to life sentences.

At the beginning of February, Sirisena announced the restoration of the death penalty  because of prisons "crowded" with drug traffickers and drug dealers. His choice was gained after a meeting with his Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, promoter of a fierce drug war. For this reason, a recruitment campaign was launched and two executioners were hired.

Official data show that in Sri Lanka there are 200,000 habitual drug users and that 60% of the 24,000 prisoners are imprisoned for drug dealing and drug trafficking offenses. However, Christian leaders and activists argue that these numbers are not enough to justify the elimination of a human life.

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