Sri Lanka wants to hire hangmen, a top government official said on Wednesday, after the country's only two executioners quit their jobs, leaving at least 800 convicts sitting on death row.
The death penalty has not been used in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, since 1976, though the government reinstated it in 2004 for rape, drug trafficking and murder.
"There are two vacancies for the hangman position after one person who held the position got a promotion, and the other retired," said secretary of the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, A Desanayake.
"We are planing to advertise the vacancy calling for applications by next week as we cannot keep the position vacant."
At least 800 people convicted of murder and drugs offences could potentially be executed, Desanayake said. The president must sign off on any judicial execution.
Some activists, lawyers and politicians have been lobbying for the death penalty to be carried out, citing an increase in crime since a 25-year war against separatists ended in May 2009.