Home / News/ No need to seek Maha Nayaka Theros’ advice to hang drug traffickers: Buddha Sasana Minister

No need to seek Maha Nayaka Theros’ advice to hang drug traffickers: Buddha Sasana Minister


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By Shanika Sriyananda

The Government yesterday ruled that there was no requirement to seek advice from top religious dignitaries such as the Maha Nayaka Theros to implement the Government decision to reinstate the capital punishment for drug traffickers.

“All religious leaders of this country are fully aware of the growing narcotic menace and organised crimes related to this trade. Prisons are safe houses for those drug traffickers, who have been convicted by courts, to operate their networks outside the prisons,” Buddha Sasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera told the Daily FT.

The Minister said that a notorious drug dealer, who was on death row, had been involved in importing 100 kg heroin, and that the country had become a drug cartel for many such organised drug traffickers.

President Maithripala Sirisena had informed the Cabinet that he was ready to sign ‘death warrants’ for those organised drug traffickers.  

With the unanimous final nod from the Cabinet Ministers to reinstate the capital punishment to the drug traffickers, Justice and Prison Affairs Minister Thalatha Atukorale has been instructed by President Maithripala Sirisena to submit a report on implementing the capital punishment.

Minister Perera said the most of the top religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Colombo, were concerned about curbing narcotics-related crimes.

Minister Perera also noted that his Ministerial advisory committee, comprising of Buddhist priests from all Nikayas, Buddhist scholars, the Justice and Prison Affairs Minister and the Education Ministry advisor, had also approved the decision unanimously. He said as Buddha Sasana Minister, he didn’t want to see the country grappling with narcotic-related organised crimes.

Minister Perera said that the Government had taken the decision for the betterment of the country, and also to show that Sri Lanka was a law-abiding country.

When asked whether those who committed other crimes like organised killing and rape would be hanged, Minister Perera said the Government would first consider about hanging the notorious drug traffickers.

According to the Department of Prisons, there are 374 people on death row, and 18 people convicted by the courts for narcotic related offenses, including some major drug dealers, are among them.

It is not clear whether the decision will be enforced on those drug traffickers who are already facing death sentences once it comes into effect. In 2004, the then-Government had decided to reinstate capital punishment for rape, drug trafficking, and murder, but due to strong opposition, it was not implemented.

Nearly 5,000 people who have been convicted for drug-related offenses, including using and selling drugs, are languishing in islandwide prisons, Department of Prisons sources said.


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