On 13 July 2019, Think Centre reported that 32 executions have occurred in Singapore since it ended its moratorium on the death penalty in 2014. At the same time, lawyers defending capital cases have reported receiving threats from the government. As of the date of writing, Singapore is among 24 world states that have not ratified the ICCPR and its protocols.
Drug trafficking offences topped the list
The overwhelming majority (84%) of the executions in Singapore is drug-related offences, presenting a significant increase of execution numbers for drug offenders since 2017. Singapore is among 35 countries that retain the death penalty for drug offences, Harm Reduction International highlighted.
The recently amended Misuse of Drugs Act stipulated that the accused could avoid mandatory death penalty on two conditions; if their role is merely a courier and if they provide substantive assistance to receive Certificate of Cooperation issued solely by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. As highlighted by Think Centre, two problematic factors might significantly reduce the likelihood of getting the certificate. First, when the status of merely a courier prevents the accused to provide enough information to receive the certificate, as illustrated in the case of Bill Agbozo, a Ghanaian man executed to death in 2018. Second, when the accused have borderline intelligence levels and played only the role of a mere courier, such as the case of Nagaenthran.
“The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that has no place in any society that wants to pride itself as being modern, developed and civilized,” Think Centre reiterates. Furthermore, it has never been conclusively shown that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long term imprisonment.