In response to what is believed to be the first execution of a woman in Singapore in two decades, and the country’s second execution in under a week, Amnesty International’s death penalty expert Chiara Sangiorgio said:
“This week has cast a harsh and tragic spotlight on the complete lack of death penalty reform in Singapore, as the state carried out two unlawful drug executions, including the first known execution of a woman in two decades. As most of the world turns its back on this cruel punishment, Singapore’s government continues down the path of executing people for drug-related crimes, violating international human rights law and standards.
“In the same week as Singapore unlawfully put to death two people, we see clear evidence of the irreversible trend to do away with this punishment, which has no place in our societies. Ghana was the latest country to move in this direction by abolishing the death penalty for most offences. Ghana is closer to joining the more than two-thirds of countries all over the world that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. When is Singapore going to wake up and do the same?
“The authorities in Singapore must stop their unlawful and increased resort to executions in the name of drug-control. There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect or that it has any impact on the use and availability of drugs. In fact, it has the effect of disproportionately punishing and further discriminating those with disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to marginalized groups.
“We call on governments, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to increase pressure on Singapore to end its highly punitive approach to drug control policies.”
According to the Transformative Justice Collective, Singaporean national Saridewi Djamani was executed today (28 July) in the first known execution of a woman in Singapore since 2004. She was found guilty of possession of around 30 grams of diamorphine (heroin) for the purposes of trafficking.
A Singaporean Malay man, Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, was executed on Wednesday 26 July after being found guilty in 2018 for trafficking around 50 grams of diamorphine (heroin). Both had been sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2018.
Singapore has now executed 15 people for drug related offences since 30 March 2022, when executions resumed after a hiatus of two years. Four of these were known to have been carried out in 2023. Singapore’s close neighbour Malaysia has observed an official moratorium on executions since 2018 and has recently repealed the mandatory death penalty, including for drug-related offences. The Transformative Justice Collective reported that a third execution has been set for 3 August, of a man convicted and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for possession of 54.04g of diamorphine for the purpose of trafficking.
Both the UNODC and the INCB – two UN bodies in charge of developing and monitoring drug policies – have condemned the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences and have urged governments to move towards abolition.
Singapore is one of only four countries, alongside China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, where executions for drug-related offences were confirmed in 2022. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally, in all cases and under any circumstances.