Singapore executes second prisoner in three weeks for trafficking cannabis


Singapore has hanged its second citizen in three weeks for trafficking cannabis despite growing calls for the country to halt drug-related executions.

A man, 37, was executed on Wednesday after his last-ditch bid to reopen his case was thrown out by the court on Tuesday without a hearing.

He had been jailed for seven years after being convicted in 2019 for trafficking 1.5 kilograms of cannabis.

Under Singapore laws, trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis may result in the death penalty.

Human rights activist Kokila Annamalai said the man, whose identity has been kept anonymous, wanted to reopen his case based on DNA evidence and fingerprints that tied him to a much smaller amount which he admitted to possessing.

“If we don’t come together to stop it, we fear that this killing spree will continue in the weeks and months to come,” she told AP.

Some 600 prisoners are on death row in Singapore, mostly for drug-related offences, she added.

Singapore executed 11 people last year for drug offences after a two-year pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Transformative Justice Collective (TJC), a group advocating against the death penalty, believes there are currently 54 people on death row in Singapore, with all but three of them sentenced to death for drug-related offences.

The hanging of Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, believed to be mentally disabled, sparked an international outcry and brought the country’s capital punishment under scrutiny.

Three weeks ago Singaporean Tangaraju Suppiah, 46, was hanged in the first execution this year for trafficking one kilogram of cannabis, although he was not caught with the drugs. Prosecutors said phone numbers traced him as the person responsible for coordinating the delivery of the drugs, which he denied.

Tangaraju Suppiah (Transformative Justice Collective)
Tangaraju Suppiah (Transformative Justice Collective)

Human rights groups have raised concerns about the process of Suppiah’s conviction, alleging he was not given adequate access to an interpreter and had to argue his last appeal on his own because his family was unable to secure a lawyer.

Activist groups, British mogul Richard Branson and the United Nations have urged Singapore to halt executions for drug-related offences as increasing evidence shows the death penalty is ineffective as a deterrent.

But Singapore authorities insist that capital punishment remains “part of Singapore’s comprehensive harm prevention strategy which targets both drug demand and supply.”

Amnesty International said Indonesia carried out 112 drug-related executions last year by firing squad after a hiatus since 2016.

In contrast, neighboring Thailand has legalised cannabis, while Malaysia has ended the mandatory death penalty for serious crimes.