Singapore carries out controversial execution amidst global outcry

SINGAPORE: Singapore, known for its strict anti-drug laws, recently executed Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, a local man convicted of drug trafficking, and is set to carry out the first execution of a woman prisoner in nearly two decades.

These executions have sparked a global outcry, with human rights groups calling for Singapore to reconsider its stance on capital punishment.

Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, aged 57, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2017 for trafficking “not less than 49.98 grams” (1.76 ounces) of heroin.

Despite multiple appeals against his conviction and sentence, including a denied petition for presidential clemency, his execution took place at Changi Prison, as confirmed by the Central Narcotics Bureau.

Hussain’s execution marks the 14th time Singapore has resumed executions since March 2022, following a two-year pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This move has drawn significant criticism from international human rights organizations who argue that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to crime and that there is no evidence to support its effectiveness.

Adding to the controversy is the imminent execution of Saridewi Djamani, a 45-year-old woman convicted of trafficking around 30 grams of heroin. She received the death sentence in 2018 and is scheduled to be hanged on Friday. If carried out, Djamani will become the first woman executed in Singapore since 2004 when 36-year-old hairdresser Yen May Woen faced the same fate for drug trafficking.

Singapore’s stringent anti-drug laws stipulate that trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis or over 15 grams of heroin can result in the death penalty.

The country maintains that such measures have contributed to making it one of Asia’s safest countries. However, human rights advocates like Amnesty International remain vehemently opposed to capital punishment and assert that the government’s reliance on executions for drug control is deeply concerning.

Chiara Sangiorgio, an expert on the death penalty from Amnesty International, expressed her condemnation, stating, “It is unconscionable that authorities in Singapore continue to cruelly pursue more executions in the name of drug control.”

One of the recent executions that caused international outrage was that of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who was deemed to have a mental disability. His execution drew condemnation from the United Nations and British tycoon Richard Branson, shedding light on the controversial practice of carrying out capital punishment on individuals with mental health issues.

As the debate surrounding capital punishment and human rights continues to intensify, Singapore finds itself under the spotlight for its approach to drug-related crimes.

While the government insists on the efficacy of the death penalty as a deterrent, human rights groups argue for more humane and evidence-based solutions to tackle drug trafficking and crime.

With the impending execution of Saridewi Djamani, the global community watches closely, hoping for a reconsideration of Singapore’s stance on capital punishment and a shift towards a more compassionate and progressive approach to criminal justice.

Only time will tell how this contentious issue will unfold, and whether international pressure will influence Singapore’s policies on capital punishment in the future.

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