Singapore executed another citizen on Wednesday for trafficking cannabis, marking the second time in three weeks. Despite mounting pressure from critics, the city-state remains committed to imposing the death penalty for drug-related offenses.
A 37-year-old man has been executed in Singapore. Despite his attempt to challenge the verdict, the court denied his plea without a hearing. Kokila Annamalai, an activist from the Transformative Justice Collective, an organization fighting to abolish the death penalty in Singapore, confirmed the news.
A man, whose name was withheld at the request of his family, was recently denied his appeal to reopen his case in Singapore. He had been imprisoned for seven years and charged in 2019 for trafficking just over 3 pounds of cannabis. The basis for his appeal was DNA evidence and fingerprints linking him to a much smaller amount, which he admitted having. Unfortunately, the court rejected the appeal. It's worth noting that Singaporean law dictates that those caught trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis are subject to the death penalty.
Annamalai states, “If we don’t come together to stop it, we fear that this killing spree will continue in the weeks and months to come,” and went on to say that there are still about 600 prisoners on death row for drug-related crimes.
Singapore resumed capital punishment for drug offenses after a two-year suspension due to the pandemic. Last year, 11 individuals were executed, including one Malaysian who was believed to be mentally disabled. This case drew global attention, sparking concerns over human rights violations. Singapore's use of the death penalty for drug crimes has come under scrutiny once again.
Tangaraju Suppiah, a Singaporean citizen, was executed three weeks ago for his alleged role in trafficking 1 kilogram of cannabis. Despite not being caught with the drugs, Suppiah was found guilty based on phone records linking him to coordinating its delivery. This marked the first execution in Singapore for drug trafficking this year.
Singapore is facing calls to put an end to drug-related executions from a range of influential bodies, including human rights organizations, the UN, and billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson. While evidence suggests capital punishment does not deter crime, Singapore continues to argue that it forms a vital part of its anti-drug strategy. Despite this, campaigners are appealing for a reassessment of the country's approach to drug-related offenses.
Last year, Indonesia executed 112 people for drug-related offenses through firing squads, marking a significant spike from their temporary halt in 2016. Meanwhile, neighboring Thailand is embracing cannabis legalization and Malaysia has abolished mandatory death sentences for serious crimes. Amnesty International reports these contrasting approaches to drug offenses across Southeast Asia.
Singapore's use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses is becoming increasingly controversial, with international organizations and activists calling for an end to such executions. Singapore has resisted pressure from these groups, maintaining that capital punishment is a necessary component of its anti-drug strategy. The contrasting approaches taken by neighboring countries in Southeast Asia demonstrate how complex this issue can be. It remains to be seen whether Singapore will ultimately reconsider its stance on the matter or continue with the current policy despite mounting criticism from global bodies.