Will 2022 signal sea change in the death penalty for drugs?



Will 2022 signal sea change in the death penalty for drugs?

20 April 2022

By Ajeng Larasati / Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - On March 30, Singapore executed Abdul Kahar bin Othman, a local man sentenced to death for drug offences and the first person to be executed in Singapore in since 2019.

Othman had been unable to appeal his execution because he did not have a lawyer. Eight of the 35 countries that still retain the death penalty for drug offences are in South-east Asia and were responsible for a staggering 91.5 per cent of all confirmed death sentences given for drug offences worldwide, according to the Global Review 2021 from Harm Reduction International (HRI).

The imposition of these death sentences is shrouded in secrecy and characterised by widespread human rights violations (HRI 2019), such as lack of access to legal representation (HRI 2020), as in Othman's case. Too often, there are reports of torture, ill treatment and coerced confession.

The situation is particularly dire for foreign nationals who find themselves sentenced to death outside of their home countries, often without interpreters and lawyers made available to them during the legal process, says a March 2019 HRI briefing paper.