Manila/Colombo, Jan 18 (IANS): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has praised his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Dutertes brutal war on drugs, which has taken thousands of lives, calling it an “example to the world”.
In a speech during a visit to the Philippines this week, Sirisena said he intended to replicate Duterte’s ruthless approach to tackling illegal drug use, the Guardian reported on Friday.
“The war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me,” said Sirisena.
“Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard.”
In response, Duterte said that their aligned vision could mean partnering with Sri Lanka in the future to address international drug trafficking.
The speech was not the first time Sirisena has signalled his admiration for Duterte’s war on drugs.
Last July, Sri Lanka ended its 43-year moratorium on executions to bring back hanging as a punishment for drug dealers, a move Sirisena said was directly inspired by Duterte’s policy in the Philippines.
During a cabinet meeting in July, Sirisena said he “was ready to sign the death warrants” of repeat drug offenders, according to his spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne. Nineteen drug offenders who were serving life sentences now face the death penalty.
Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, which has seen police handed unprecedented powers to carry out drug-related raids and arrests, has officially killed more than 5,000 people since 2016, though campaigners allege the real death toll could be up to 20,000.
The victims have mainly been the urban poor.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is carrying out a preliminary investigation into whether the extrajudicial killings constitute crimes against humanity.