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More Than 100 Apply for the Job of a Hangman in Sri Lanka

Including an American.

by Pallavi Pundir
08 March 2019, 7:38pm

Credit: Pixabay

This article originally appeared on VICE India

A whopping 102 people out there are vying for a single job: that of being a hangman in Sri Lanka. On Wednesday, the spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Commissioner General of Prisons confirmed with Reuters that the advertisement for the position, which was published on February 11, 2019, has also received an application from a US citizen. However, it’s been discredited since only Sri Lankans can apply.

In February, the call for the position of Executioner of the Department of Prisons in the country's local newspapers had made global headlines, especially for specifying that the applicants—only male and between the ages of 18 and 45—must have “excellent moral character” and “a very good mind and mental strength.” The successful candidate will draw a monthly salary of Sri Lankan Rs 36,410 (INR 14,000 / US$200), and will employ the use of a brand new noose after the last one—imported from Pakistan 12 years ago—was found “damaged and unusable”.

The country’s recent history indicates that this job position is not an easy one to fill. While Sri Lanka’s last execution took place in 1976, the executioners who have served the department have not stuck to their jobs for long durations. The last one, PSU Premasinghe, is reported to have resigned “in shock at the first sight of the gallows at the main prison in the capital, Colombo, days after he began training." While the prison authorities reportedly gave him a month to reconsider, Premasinghe went on to quit in 2014 anyway. Since then, the position has seen three executioners, all of who quit after short stints. The last one who was hired in 2018 reportedly never showed up.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to revive the 42-year-old moratorium has also been inspired by the hardcore drug crackdown in the Philippines, which has claimed more than 5,000 lives since 2016. President Sirisena had earlier said that the dry spell for Sri Lanka will end over the next two months, with the execution of drug convicts. “I hope to carry out the first hanging within a month or two. I appeal to human rights organisations not to try to pressure us on this decision,” he said in his address to the parliament in February 2019.

Drug-related offence in Sri Lanka calls for capital punishment (apart from murder and rape). The laws that regulate and control “poisons, opium and dangerous drugs” in the country have penalties ranging from fines to death or life imprisonment. Death penalty or life imprisonment applies to the manufacturing of heroine, cocaine, morphine or opium. The punishment also applies to trafficking, possession, import or export of at least 500 gms of heroin, 3 gms of morphine, 2 gms of cocaine and heroin. For now, there are 48 drug offenders on death row; 30 have appealed, while 18 have been confirmed to be hanged.

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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.

War on Drugs
Sri Lanka
Death Penalty
Capital Punishment
south asia