The country has a problem. Sri Lankan law provides the death penalty for certain offences but currently has no hangmen. Not to worry. Interviews are currently being held to fill the two vacant positions.
There are currently 357 convicts awaiting execution is Sri Lanka but none can be executed until a new hangman is hired. Some of the inmates have been languishing on death row for more than 15 years.
The country had not one but two executioners. But alas, one was promoted while the second retired. So yesterday, the Bureau of Prisons began holding job interviews to fill the vacant positions. Interviews began yesterday for the more than 150 men who applied for the job. The job interviews are being held before a three-member panel from the Department of Prisons at Welikada Prison.
Gamini Kulatinga, the commissioner of operations for the Department of Prisons, was quoted in the Colombo Page as saying, "About 176 applicants are there and interviews are going on today [Tuesday] and tomorrow. Only males will be eligible for the post."
The successful candidates will not have demanding jobs. No one has actually been executed in Sri Lanka since 1976. The death penalty had been abolished but then reinstated in 2004 after the murder of a high court judge. The Irish Times reports that after the war with the Tamil Tigers ended in May 2009, the country has seen an increase in child abuse, rape, murders, and drug offences. More and more people are demanding that the death penalty, legally available, be used.
Although the newly hired hangmen will not be overworked, there is a lot of skill in order to do the job properly. As Discovery states, the length of the rope must be carefully calculated to achieve the objective of breaking the condemned person's neck quickly and cleanly. To achieve this, measurements must be taken of the prisoner's weight, height, and body build. If the rope is too short, the person may not die or die slowly. Having a rope that is too long can result in decapitation.
In March, Xinhua reported there has been an increase in 2012 of death sentences handed down by the High and Supreme Courts. As of late March, 43 people had been sentenced to death. A prison official is quoted as saying, "This is a massive increase compared to 40 convicts of death penalty requested during the first four months of 2011."
Although 357 people are eligible to be executed, the Colombo Page reports there are 1,164 inmates currently on death row awaiting decisions on whether their sentences will be commuted.