Sri Lanka to hold talks with Pakistan over drug convicts

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said on Thursday that he will initiate talks with Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan over extraditing five Pakistani nationals on death row in the island nation for their involvement in drug cases.

Sirisena said these Pakistani nationals, currently in jail, were on top of the list to face execution for their involvement in drugs, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, he said he will speak to Khan to deport these men and hand them over to the authorities in Pakistan.

Sirisena said he would not hesitate to go ahead with re-enforcing capital punishment on drug dealers and smugglers as the drug menace had emerged as a major problem affecting Sri Lanka.

“I also told the authorities to impose the maximum possible penalty on those who are even caught with drugs in their possession,” the President said.

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said in July that the death penalty would initially be implemented on 19 large-scale drug convicts as part of an urgent need to curb the spread of drug-related crimes.

According to figures of the Prisons Department, there were 373 convicts on death row in Sri Lanka, including the 19 drug offenders, as of last month.