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Series Details

Death Penalty in Singapore
25 April 2005

June 2001, Think Centre begins to raise public awareness on the death penalty issue.

Sign Petition Singapore: Calls for immediate moratorium on the death penalty

April 2005, Think Centre reaffirms call for a moratorium on death penalty and to commute all death sentences to imprisonment. Think Centre calls on the government to remove the mandatory capital punishment for simple possession of drugs. The mandatory death sentence must be removed. Singapore is believe to have the world's highest per capita execution rate,relative to its population.

Series Items
Imminent Execution, 30 May 2001, Zulfikar bin Mustaffah, Aged 32, Unemployed
Zulfikar bin Mustaffah is a Drug Addict but NOT a Drug Trafficker!
Clemency Plea to the President of Singapore
Death Penalty: Information needed on Death Sentence and Execution Statistics in Singapore this year
The Death Penalty in Southeast Asia
Drug Addicts and Death Penalty in Singapore
Death Penalty Case Gets an Airing in Parliament
Zulfikar bin Mustaffah to be Hanged this Friday
Death Penalty: The Silence is Deafening and Disturbing
Was innocent man hanged due to procedure?
Death penalty: The Unconstitutional Punishment
Indian migrant worker facing execution
Singapore Death Penalty Shrouded In Silence
Singapore: High execution rate shrouded in secrecy
SINGAPORE: Death Penalty - Julaiha Begum (f), aged 52, faces imminent execution after her appeal for presidential clemency has been denied.
Think Centre Calls for a moratorium on Death Penalty
J.B.Jeyaretnam Calls for a Criminal Cases Review Commission
S'pore: Capital punishment soars
Death Penalty
Two More to Hang in Singapore
Death Penalty: Nguyen Tuong Van appeals
Singapore: Death Penalty should be commuted to imprisonment
Singapore struggles with image as executioner
Death Penalty: NGUYEN, Vietnamese refugee-cum-scout
India: The debate on death penalty
BHUTAN: Capital punishment abolished
JAPAN: Death Penalty and the Media
Malaysia: Is Capital Punishment Justified?
Death Penalty: Latest worldwide statistics released
Govt criticized AI's report on Death Penalty: J.B.Jeyaretnam comments
Death-row detainee Shanmugam:
2 hanged and there are 8 more
Singapore: President rejects clemency for Shanmugam
Shanmugam Murugesu will be hanged: 13 May 2005
Think Centre calls for Constitutional Court decision and Moratorium on death penalty
President unable to accede for constititional court hearing
13 May 2005: Shanmugam to be hanged at 6am
Suspected Drug Trafficker Free to Do Business
The family and children of Shanmugam Murugesu
Think Centre: Reaffirms Call for Moratorium on executions
The Death Penalty An Irrational Debate
6th May Candlelit Vigil
Hung at Dawn: Police Ban Sam's Face
Two Indonesian Domestic Workers Escape the Death Penalty
World Day Against the Death Penalty
Singapore: Government defends mandatory death penalty
SINGAPORE: Two Africans sentenced to death
Poem: Hung at Dawn
Static Art Display: Hung at Dawn Concert
HUNG AT DAWN: Concert Against Death Penalty
Singapore finally finds a voice in death row protest
Jakarta: Protest against Death Penalty in Singapore
S'pore frees German drug offender
Singapore activists vow to keep fire burning against death penalty
Think Centre calls for a moratorium on Death Penalty
The question of the death penalty
AI reports on Singapore executions, human rights
What does PERC have to do with Death Penalty!
There Is More To The Death Penalty Debate
Singapore opposed the call for a moratorium on death-penalty

Human Rights Watch
Singapore Death Penalty Shrouded In Silence

12 April 2002 by Amy Tan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - In the quiet pre-dawn hours of a Friday, someone could be on their way to the gallows in Singapore's Changi prison. But no one knows for sure.
Capital punishment in the tiny island state has long been shrouded in silence, with little public debate about the issue and even less information on how the process is carried out.

"We do have a general policy not to give any information on the death penalty," a prison official told Reuters.

Even the families of those facing the gallows receive scant notice, and any information about the Friday hangings are typically released only after the deed has been done.

"Families are in a state of complete anxiety and lack of knowledge until very, very late in the day," said Tim Parritt, a spokesman for human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

The system came under international scrutiny when a German woman last month found herself facing the death penalty after being charged with trafficking in slightly more than 500 grams of cannabis -- a drug now decriminalised in some parts of Europe.

Julia Suzanne Bohl escaped the gallows after a Singapore court reduced the charges against her, but the 22-year old still faces a lengthy jail sentence.

Tough drug laws enacted in 1975 made the death sentence mandatory for trafficking in more than 15 grams (half an ounce) of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine or 500 grams of cannabis.

Singapore law assumes a person to be trafficking if they are found in possession of a certain quantity of drugs, thereby shifting the burden of proof to the accused.

Singapore caused a diplomatic storm in 1994 when it ignored Western appeals and hanged a Dutchman for trafficking heroin.

High Execution Rate

The prosperous city-state of four million, ruled by the People's Action Party for four decades, has had capital punishment for murder since its days as a British colony.

Those found guilty of kidnapping, treason and certain firearm offences could also face the gallows, although local civil rights group the Think Centre says about 70 percent of hangings are for drug offences.

The government revealed recently, only in reply to a question in parliament, that 340 people were hanged between 1991 and 2000.

In a response to a Reuters query, it also said 22 people were executed for drug trafficking in 2001 and 17 in the year before.

Singapore has one of the highest execution rates in the world relative to its population, Amnesty's Parritt said.

The highest outright number of executions were carried out by China, the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Amnesty said.

"(The) concern Amnesty has about Singapore is the lack of information issued on executions, the number of executions and the processes...which might feed a public debate and a higher level of public scrutiny about what is actually happening," Parritt said.

Local activists say the lack of exposure and education about the death penalty has led to scant public debate.

"The whole education (system) doesn't touch, from very young, on human rights at all," Think Centre president Sinapan Samydorai said.

Some 110 nations have abolished capital punishment in law or practice as of November 2001, while another 85 retain it.

"The whole trend in the world right now is to re-look at the death penalty... If these things get highlighted too much it's also quite negative on Singapore," Samydorai said.

"It's a very sensitive issue (for the government)."

Western critics point to the "right to life" as a fundamental reason to abolish the death penalty, but Singapore has shrugged off such notions and looks unlikely to scrap it anytime soon.

"The basic difference in our approach springs from our traditional Asian value system which places the interests of the community over and above that of the individual," Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in a speech.

"In criminal law legislation, our priority is the security and well being of law-abiding citizens rather than the rights of the criminal to be protected from incriminating evidence."

Low Crime Rates

Amnesty says the death penalty is not a deterrent to the drug trade as runners, rather than the kingpins, are most at risk of facing the gallows.

But Singapore's low crime rates and general state of law and order has been held up as good reason to keep capital punishment.

"There is widespread belief amongst lawmakers and the public in Singapore that the death penalty has worked," said National University of Singapore law professor, Michael Hor.

"Abolition would send the wrong message to criminal actors who might interpret such development as the government going soft on crime."

Amnesty has called on Singapore to commute the death sentence into long jail terms but chances of the public interest and debate needed to fuel such action seem remote.

"No government wants to take on Singapore because they are trading here too. They keep quiet except when their own nationals are arrested," Samydorai said.

"Nobody makes noise when a local is being hung."

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