In a statement released by the Central Narcotic Bureau (CNB), a 34-year-old Malaysian man and a 46-year-old Singaporean man had their capital sentences carried out yesterday (2 August), for their crimes of trafficking a controlled drug.
They added that the men were accorded full due process under the law, and were represented by legal counsel throughout the process.
As with previous drug traffickers executed in the past few months, they had submitted petitions to the President for clemency, but were unsuccessful.
Under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1973, anyone who imports or exports over 200g of cannabis will receive the death penalty. The government authority has exerted on multiple occasions that capital punishment is part of Singapore’s comprehensive harm prevention strategy to targets both drug demand and supply, though this practice remains highly contentious both locally and worldwide.
To protect the privacy of the men’s families, their names were not announced.
Third Execution of the Week Scheduled on Friday (5 August)
On 29 July, 45-year-old Abdul Rahim bin Shapiee’s family were informed by the Singapore Prison Service that they intend to carry out his death sentence on 5 August 2022.
In a statement, the Transformative Justice Collective shared about how Rahim’s legal case was deeply concerning one as they alleged that he had been denied access to legal assistance that could have helped him make more informed choices for his defence from the point of arrest and interrogation.
Some specifics on the trickiness of his situation included having to give statements without any legal advice, which the collective said to be an incredibly “alien, stressful, and intimidating experience”, and fear of the police driven by threats on two occasions.
During the trial, Rahim challenged seven out of the ten statements that the prosecution had adduced. The issue of whether these seven statements had been given voluntarily was subject to a separate and additional hearing during the trial.
A police officer also displayed much frustration with him for having provided an incorrect phone number for the man who would end up as the co-accused in the trial.
“If that’s the case, I’ll bring your wife and… your family to the station,” threatened the officer to Rahim.
On another occasion, another police officer also refused to let him call his wife until he had been interrogated fully. Rahim recalled how this affected him at that time, with “fear [for his wife] operating on his mind and continuing throughout the recording of the long statements.”
All these are, of course, allegations with no basis.
Ninth Execution in Four Months, After Zero Executions in 2020 and 2021
Following the execution of the 50-year-old Singaporean man was hanged for drug trafficking just last week, on 26 July, the three execution orders made this week will bring the total count to nine executions in just four months.
This comes after we had zero executions in the country in 2020 and 2021.
However, it doesn’t mean that nobody was sentenced to death during those two years. Rather, there were still people being handed the death sentence, but executions were halted due to the pandemic. Activist groups have sounded out that this might have led to a backlog of death-row inmates that the Government is now trying to clear.
Pace of Executions Stir Much Debate over the Death Penalty
The death penalty has always been a widely polarising issue in Singapore. Despite criticism from rights groups and overseas onlookers, Singapore authorities have stood firm in adopting a zero-tolerance stance on the death penalty. The capital punishment policy has made Singapore come across as “a highly regressive move” for having “one of the world’s most liberal economies.”, to critics.
With the increasing number of executions we’ve seen as of late, more opinions on the issue have surfaced.
According to The Financial Times, Kirsten Han, a local journalist and activist who has campaigned against the death penalty for more than a decade, she suspects more execution notices are being issued because it is running out of space on death row. “It is definitely the worst year I have seen,” she said.
Sangkari Pranthaman, brother of Pannir Selvam who is currently on death row, said “Singapore is not giving us time to digest the previous execution. Suddenly the next one is coming up…Pannir is in the danger zone . . . My heart is crying.”
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