Sri Lanka announced on Wednesday, July 11, it would start hanging drug dealers, ending a near-half century moratorium on capital punishment as officials promised to "replicate the success" of the Philippines' drug war. President Maithripala Sirisena had told the cabinet he "was ready to sign the death warrants" of repeat drug offenders, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said Wednesday. "From now on, we will hang drug offenders without commuting their death sentences," he said. Sri Lanka has commuted death sentences for serious crimes to life in prison since 1976, when the last execution took place. Senaratne said there were 19 drug offenders whose death sentences had been commuted to life. It was not clear if they would be hanged under the government's policy shift. But authorities say a tougher approach is needed to combat what they say is an increase in drug-related crime.