Sri Lanka President Orders 4 Executions, Lifting 42-Year Moratorium

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena approved the executions of four drug offenders Wednesday, putting an end to the country’s moratorium on the death penalty since 1976.

The move is part of Sirisena’s effort to replicate what he said was the success of the Philippines’ war on drugs. He said the country is home to 300,000 addicts and 60 percent of all prisoners were imprisoned due to drug offenses.

“I have already signed the death penalty for four [convicts]. It will be implemented soon and we have already decided the date as well,” he said.

Though Sri Lanka put a hold on executions 42 years ago, some 1,299 people sit on death row, including 48 convicted for drug crimes.

After Sirisena first announced his intention to lift the moratorium in July, the government began looking for an executioner. One has not yet been appointed.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo called on Sirisena not to carry out the executions.

“I reach out to you to plead for the lives of people who may soon be executed in Sri Lanka if you revive the death penalty,” Naidoo said.