[dropcap font="" size="50px" background="" color="" circle="0" transparent="0"]I[/dropcap]n the eyes of human rights campaigners, a Singapore court’s rejection on Wednesday
of the appeals by three men sentenced to death for drugs offenses is clearly wrong.
Singapore is one of only four countries known to still execute people for drug-related offenses
, according to Amnesty International. “The government does not disclose how many people are held on death row, though campaigners believe there are likely more than 50 men awaiting execution, the majority of whom have been convicted of drug offenses,” reports The Guardian
The city-state clings to the death penalty despite its use “for drug-related offenses [being] incompatible with international human rights law,” says
UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.
There is a widespread international consensus against the use of the death penalty, reports The Diplomat
. As the UN General Assembly stated in a December 2007 resolution
, “there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the death penalty’s implementation is irreversible and irreparable.”
However, the government maintains that “(the death penalty) has had a strong, clear, deterrent impact,” says Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam in The Straits Times
. He cites the “preliminary results” of a government survey which showed that “more than 80 percent [of citizens] believed the death penalty had deterred offenders” and 66 percent felt the mandatory death penalty was appropriate for drug trafficking.Human Rights Watch
says, “Executing someone with an intellectual or psychosocial disability is inconsistent with international law and practice.” Two of the three men reportedly have intellectual disabilities.
Lawyer Charles Yeo acted for Singaporean Roslan Bakar and Malaysian Pausi Jefridin. He “contended that Roslan has an IQ of 74, while Pausi has an IQ of 67, reports The Straits Times
Yeo had argued that it was unlawful to execute people who have an IQ of less than 70, reports The Straits Times
. Singapore’s Court of Appeal said, however, that “no domestic law or international treaty explicitly prohibits the execution of people who have an IQ of less than 70.”
In a Channel News Asia
report, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim insists that “The death penalty remains relevant and important in [Singapore’s] criminal justice system…. While other countries and NGOs may not share the same view as us, this is an issue for Singaporeans to decide.”
The last known execution in Singapore was carried out in November 2019, according to Amnesty International
. Abd Helmi Ab Halim was hanged at Changi Prison for transporting 16.56 grams
— little more than a tablespoon — of heroin from Malaysia to the city-state.