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Sri Lanka to bring back death penalty for drug dealers

By
Ray Downs
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena speaks during the second session of the eighth Parliament of Sri Lanka at Jayawardenepura Kotte in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 8. This month, Sirisena said he wants to bring back the death penalty for drug dealers. File Photo by M.A. Pushpa Kumara/ EPA-EFE
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena speaks during the second session of the eighth Parliament of Sri Lanka at Jayawardenepura Kotte in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 8. This month, Sirisena said he wants to bring back the death penalty for drug dealers. File Photo by M.A. Pushpa Kumara/ EPA-EFE

July 15 (UPI) -- The Sri Lanka government this month announced it would execute drug dealers to "replicate the success" of the Philippines war on drugs.

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said he "was ready to sign the death warrants" of repeat drug offenders, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said, according to the South China Morning Post.

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"From now on, we will hang drug offenders without commuting their death sentences," Senaratne said.

If Sri Lanka does carry out the executions, it will end a moratorium on death sentences the government has had in place since 1976.

Harry Roque, the spokesman for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, praised Sri Lanka's decision to impose the death penalty for drug dealers but pointed out the country technically doesn't have a death penalty system.

"Of course, we are happy that other countries have taken note of our war on drugs, and that they look upon us as best practice on dealing with illegal drugs," Roque told reporters. "So we appreciate that, but as of now, we still have no death penalty."

While the Philippines doesn't have capital punishment, at least 4,200 drug dealers have been killed by police during anti-drug operations since July 2016.

"My order is shoot to kill you," Duterte said in 2016. "I don't care about human rights, you better believe me."

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