"And you're told it's time to die": A Personal Contribution to the 2021 World Day Against the Death Penalty

The following text is excerpted from  Death Row Diary , by William Van Poyck. William Van Poyck -- who maintained his innocence -- was executed by the state of Florida on June 12, 2013.  The 58-year-old, convicted of the 1987 murder of Glades Correctional Institution guard Fred Griffis outside a West Palm Beach doctor’s office, offered his views on everything from prison food to movies to the blood lust of politicians who support the death penalty via letters he posted online with the help of his sister.  After his conviction, Van Poyck, with a reform school education, authored three books, one of which won first-place honors in the memoir category in Writer’s Digest 2004 Self-Published Book Awards.  Locked up with what the courts have deemed the worst of the worst, Van Poyck opened the doors to a secret world few can imagine... The following piece is excerpted from William Van Poyck’s dispatches written during the last two years prior to his own execution. "Robert Waterhouse was

Sri Lanka: Applications sought for hangman’s job

Applications have been sought for the hangman’s job with President Maithripala Sirisena saying he hopes to implement the death penalty soon.

The Department of Prisons has called for applications from today to recruit two new hangmen.

President Maithripala Sirisena told Parliament last week that the death penalty will be implemented within two months.

He said that he is determined to implement the death penalty despite some strong objections.

The President said that he had sought a report on convicts sentenced to death for grave crimes related to drugs.

However he said the report had been delayed.

In July 2018 the then cabinet had approved a proposal by the President to implement the death sentence on repeat offenders on death row for serious drug related crimes.

Last month, the Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Thalatha Atukorale briefed the cabinet on the steps taken by the Ministry to gather information on drug convicts who are on death row.

The Minister had told the cabinet that after President Maithripala Sirisena had announced in July 2018 that the death sentence will be implemented on convicts on death row for serious drug related crimes, the Justice Ministry had sought information on the convicts from the Department of Prisons.

The Department of Prisons had, that same month, sent a name list of 18 convicts to the Justice Ministry.

A name list on the convicts was also sent to the Attorney General in October last year. 

Source: colombogazette.com, February 11, 2019

Measures to expedite capital punishment

COLOMBO (News 1st) – The rope to be used in the gallows has been sent to the Sri Lanka Standards Institute for inspection. The Prisons Department noted that the Institute will be inspecting whether the rope is suitable to be used for capital punishment. It was brought to the country in 2015 from Pakistan.

The Department further notes that if the rope does not meet suitable standards measures would be taken to expedite the importation of another rope of suitable quality.

Meanwhile, applications will be called for an executioner from today (February 11) and it will be open till the 25th of this month.

These measures have been implemented to facilitate the decision made by the President to issue capital punishment on large scale drug dealers.

Measures to obtain the other necessary equipment required for the process has also commenced. The initiative began following a notification of the Ministry of Prison Reforms to expedite measures to activate capital punishment.

A list of 17 drug dealers inline for the death penalty was handed over to the Presidential Secretariat on the 25th of January. It was handed over upon the recommendation of the Attorney General.

Source: newsfirst.lk, February 11, 2019

Colombo: Father of three sentenced to death

The Colombo High Court judge Shashi Mahendran sentenced a man to death over a murder committed in 2000, today (11).

Accordingly, a 57-year-old father of three from Bollegolla area in Kelaniya has been sentenced to death in this manner.

On the 22nd January in 2000, a man was shot dead in Bollegolla area over an escalated personal dispute. The Attorney General filed a case against two persons with this regard to the incident.

One of the defendants was declared not guilty and acquitted while the other defendant was convicted of the crime.

Subsequently, the death penalty was imposed on the defendant, today.

Source: adaderana.lk, February 11, 2019

Like Duterte, Sirisena wants to restore the death penalty for drug dealers

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, left, and President Rodrigo Duterte
The president of Sri Lanka announces the resumption of hangings within two months. A moratorium on capital punishment had been in place since 1976. Almost 1,300 people are on death row, 48 for drug-related offences.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has announced the end of a 43-year moratorium on the death penalty, saying that he wants executions to restart in two months with drug dealers and traffickers first on the list of those to be hanged.

By his own admission, Sirisena’s decision came after a visit to the Philippines where he met Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, who has led a brutal drug war that has so far caused about 5,000 official deaths, and the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, in the south of the country.

In addition, at a recent drug prevention meeting at the Sanath Jayasuriya Stadium in Matara, the president said that the war on drugs will be carried out like the war against terrorism that led to the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elan (LTTE).

Since 1976, when the moratorium was imposed, 1,299 people have been sentenced to death. In Sri Lanka, criminals in Sri Lanka are regularly given death sentences for murder, rape and drug-related crimes, but until now their punishments have been commuted to life jail.

However, prison overcrowding is one of the reasons that have prompted the president to lift the moratorium on executions within two months. He told parliamentarians that the Welikada prison in Colombo has become a hotbed of the drug trade in the country.

For this reason, Sirisena warned that “human rights organisations [should] not to object to the move to implement the death penalty as it is done to control the drug menace and underworld activities in Sri Lanka.”

For several experts, resuming executions is more of an attempt by the government to show that it is still in charge. In fact, out of almost 1,300 prisoners on death row, only 48 are drug-related. Of these, 30 have appealed their sentence and are waiting for a hearing.

Whilst it is true that the country has seen a rise in crime, including drug-related murders by criminal gangs, as well as sexual violence, the small number of people convicted on drug-related charges does not seem to warrant resuming executions.

Instead, experts point out that, following the country’s recent political crisis, the measure seems to be aimed at regaining popularity among voters by emulating strongman Duterte.

Source: asianews.it, February 9, 2019

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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"And you're told it's time to die": A Personal Contribution to the 2021 World Day Against the Death Penalty