Puppet in jail, Dehiwala Puppet Museum
Not by me, I don’t need a hangman. The Sri Lankan Prisons Department has started interviewing 176 male applicants for the position of hangman. No one has been executed since 1976 and there are 480 people potentially on death row. I don’t agree with the death penalty, it’s perfect justice from an imperfect system. Other people call for it in cases of rape or child abuse, I think out of vengeance rather than a thought to its effects. Shramantha Jayamaha was recently sentenced to death for the Royal Park murders. There are others sentenced for drug trafficking.
Being a hangman in a Buddhist country is a very dubious proposition. Even fishermen are considered to be somewhat lacking in merit. Not killing is the first precept and most people try to keep it (though almost everyone eats meat or fish). Killing other people is another thing altogether. Of course, they could get someone from another or no religion. And it’s quite possible the hangman would have no work at all. And yes, the sentence would be hanging, not lethal injection or the electric chair.
In Sri Lanka, the British first introduced the death penalty in 1815, for murder and rebellion (Wikipedia). After Sri Lankan gained Independence, SWRD Bandaranaike abolished it in 1956. After his assassination it was reintroduced in 1959. Then, in the 1978 Constitution, the death penalty was kept but made unlikely since the judge, Attorney General, Minister Of Justice and President all had to agree on the sentence. In practice, most sentences were commuted to life in prison. Despite public protest, SWRD’s daughter Chandrika Bandaranaike tried to reinstate the death penalty, effectively pushing it through after the murder of High Court judge Sarath Ambepitiya.
The sentence still hasn’t been carried out, however. Largely because there weren’t any hangmen. But soon, it seems, there will be.