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Tri-forces given police powers to tackle drug related offences


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In a bid to deal with the escalating level of drug related violence, the Cabinet this week gave approval to draw up relevant legislation to grant the Tri-forces police powers, for a period of two years, to assist the police.

A joint Cabinet paper submitted by President Maithripala Sirisena in his capacity as the Defence Minister and Public Administration, and Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara, pointed out that while the Police and Police Narcotics Bureau is actively apprehending perpetrators of drug related crime, the worsening drug situation in the country requires assistance from the Tri-forces.

The Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention too has also stressed on the need to enlist the help of the Tri-forces to tackle the issue.  

Minister Madduma Bandara has informed the Cabinet that the Navy has already worked to apprehend drug traffickers in the high seas, in accordance with the Customs Ordinance, Emigration and Immigration Act, and the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act. Thus, this would be an extension of that.

Legislation is to be prepared with recommendations from the Attorney General’s Department.

Further, President Sirisena has agreed to reactivate the capital punishment against large-scale drug offence convicts, in a bid to curb escalating violence related to drug trafficking, the Government announced today. 

Although the Judiciary has given the death sentence, it has not been implemented since 1976. However, the Cabinet of Ministers have decided to impose the death penalty given to repeated drug trafficking offenders, who have carried out trafficking activities even while in prisons, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told media yesterday. 

The death penalty is given to a number of offenses, such as high treason, murder, and drug-trafficking related offences by the Judiciary, but can only be carried out after the Executive President of the Country signs executive orders. However, although the penalty has been imposed, sentences have not been carried out since 1976. 

“The death penalty will be initially given to repeat criminal offenders out of 19 large-scale drug offence convicts, who have been carrying out trafficking activities from the prisons as well,” Dr. Senaratne said.

He said that the decision was taken by President Maithripala Sirisena after discussing the situation with the Cabinet of Ministers on 10 July. 

“It was decided to implement the death penalty on repeat offenders related to large scale drug offences,” he told reporters.

Dr. Senaratne explained that there was a need to implement the death penalty due to escalating levels of violence related to drug trafficking.

Confident that the country will not come under criticism from human rights groups for implementing the death penalty on a select few criminals, he explained that although the death penalty is issued by courts, the sentence is not carried out, and instead the convict is sentenced to life in prison. (CD)


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