The Sri Lankan Government is Advertising Job Positions for Hangmen

The President seeks executioners with "excellent moral character" as the country prepares to reintroduce the death penalty.
February 14, 2019, 2:57am
Gallows and a noose
Image via Pixabay

The return of capital punishment to Sri Lanka means new job opportunities, with the government posting a job ad for an “executioner” in a local newspaper. The listing, issued by Sri Lanka's commissioner general of prisons this week, calls for male applicants aged between 18 and 45 who possess “excellent moral character” and a "very good mind and mental strength,” Reuters reports. It comes as the country’s president pushes ahead with plans to reinstate the death penalty as part of a hardline, Philippines-style crack down on drug traffickers.

“We never know if the government will resume the death penalty, but we want to hire two hangmen to fill vacancies and be ready if the government wants to execute drug traffickers,” said Thushara Upuldeniya, a spokesman for the prison service. In return for executing people convicted of drug-related offences, the successful candidate will be paid 36,310 Sri Lankan rupees (about $285 Australian dollars) per month, which is an above average salary for a government employee, according to Reuters. Job interviews will be carried out next month.

There hasn’t been an execution in Sri Lanka since 1976, with all death penalties for capital crimes such as murder, rape, and drug trafficking were commuted to life in prison instead. The country’s last hangman quit in 2014—claiming stress after seeing the gallows for the first time—and another employee who the government hired last year never showed up for the job.

President Maithripala Sirisena is hoping to end the 43-year moratorium on capital punishment, however, and roll out the punitive measure again over the next two months in a bid to curb crime and maintain order, local paper Colombo Page reported. During a state visit to the Philippines last month, Sirisena praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs—a bloody, violent campaign that’s claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people since 2016—amid concerns that Sri Lanka could become a new transit hub for drugs in Asia.

"The war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world—and personally to me,” Sirisena said at a state banquet with Duterte, according to Philippine news site Rappler. “Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard.”

Upuldeniya said that at least 25 people currently convicted on drug offences could be executed, including two dealers. He also noted that there were another 436 people—including six women—on death row for various other crimes.

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This article originally appeared on VICE AU.