By Rick Lines,
Speaking before the country’s parliament, Singapore’s minister for home affairs, K Shanmugam, extolled the country’s success in fighting drugs. He attributed these results to Singapore’s harsh drug laws, which include the use of capital punishment.
It may seem surprising to the uninitiated that Singapore has the death penalty for drug crimes. But, as the minister said: “Our penalties are severe because we want to deter such offences”.
Singapore is one of a tiny number of countries classified by Harm Reduction International (HRI) as “high application” states in the use of capital punishment for drugs. This means that death sentences and executions are a regular part of the criminal justice system. Indeed, there have been two executions for drug offences just this month, killings which were condemned by UN human rights officials.
The idea that harsh drug laws such as the death penalty are effective is one actively promoted by Singapore. And it is a belief now allegedly being adopted by US president Donald Trump. Given Trump’s notorious concern with what he considers “fake news”, it is somewhat surprising he has embraced one of the more dubious claims in global drug control – the myth that Singapore’s harsh penalties have nearly eliminated drug use and drug crime.