Death penalty in Singapore (2009)

1 Apr

According to the Amnesty International 2009 Death Penalty report, the Singapore government has executed one person in the last year. At least six have also been sentenced to death in 2009.

Perhaps due to the a lack of precedence, it also mentioned that a stay of execution was granted for Yong Vui Kong after a constitutional appeal challenging the mandatory nature of the sentencing.

The report also touched on the decreasing use of capital punishment in the country in recent years as compared to the 2000s where 7 executions were carried out on average. It was however reluctant to acknowledge that the death penalty would be abolished anytime soon even though the two Opposition parties, Reform Party and Singapore Democratic Party have opposed such forms of sentencing for drug offenses.

While it appears that the Singapore government has reduced the number of capital punishment cases, there is much work to be done. From an abolitionist point of view, a single state execution is one too many. The decreasing number of public death sentences and executions is possibly a sign of the political elites being increasingly embarrassed by such negative publicity.

As such, anti-death penalty advocates should take this opportunity to engage in research to draw up comparisons and links between number of crimes that have been committed and punishable by death and the number of death sentences actually meted out to disprove the theory that they serve as an effective deterrent. Public education can also be carried out in the form of awareness campaigns focusing on Singapore’s increasingly alienated stance within the global community. This can be contrasted with other less developed or repressed states. For example, campaigners can  highlight the fact that even Myanmar has been listed as a country that is abolitionist in practice while Singapore remains a retentionist for ordinary crimes. Alternatively, states such as Burundi and Togo have abolished capital punishment while Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia and Pakistan went on a year without any known executions. These comparisons can be used to highlight the increasing number of states that are joining the abolitionist camp.

In short, anti-death penalty advocates should not be afraid to use  international and respectable human rights resources. There is a wide range of tools at their disposal to further their studies and campaigns in advancing the cause.

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