Singapore hangs two more men amid continued outcry over capital punishment
- Malaysian Kalwant Singh and Singaporean Norasharee Gous were hanged on Thursday morning and their families have collected their death certificates and belongings, anti-death penalty activist Kirsten Han said
- Singapore has defended its tough stance on drugs and retention of the death penalty, with minister K. Shanmugam saying he doesn’t have ‘any doubts’ about the policy
There are currently an estimated 60 people on Singapore’s death row.
Malaysian Kalwant Singh and Singaporean Norasharee Gous were hanged at Changi Prison on Thursday morning and their families have collected their death certificates and belongings, anti-death penalty activist Kirsten Han said.
The island republic’s top court on Wednesday dismissed Singh’s last-minute plea for a stay of execution.
The family of Singh, 32, was notified last week of authorities’ plans to carry out the execution. As with recent executions in the city state, anti-death penalty activists have sought to galvanise support for a 11th-hour reprieve.
Activists present at the hearing at the Court of Appeal as well as the Malaysian lawyers’ group Lawyers for Liberty, confirmed his appeal was dismissed.
Singh had sought a stay of execution and also challenged prosecutors’ decision not to grant him a so-called “certificate of substantive assistance” that would have allowed him to escape the gallows.
The certificate is granted to accused drug traffickers who are deemed to have substantively assisted the anti-narcotics agency during investigations.
Possession of the certification would give the court the discretion to impose life imprisonment and caning instead of the mandatory death penalty for serious cases of drug trafficking.
“What this basically says is whether an individual like Kalwant – already recognised as a drug courier, on the lowest rungs of a drug syndicate – lives or dies is up to whether the state has found him useful for their purposes,” Han said after Wednesday’s court hearing. “In other words, human life is secondary to the goals of the state”.
Singapore’s government has vocally defended its use of judicial executions as a deterrent against serious crimes such as drug trafficking and murder, even amid intensifying pressure from activists and some Western countries over the practice.
“Kalwant and Norasharee were accorded full due process under the law, and were represented by legal counsel throughout the process. Their petitions to the President for clemency were unsuccessful,” Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau said in a statement.
The execution of four others were also scheduled at various points this year but have since been delayed following last-minute legal challenges.
In a BBC interview last week, Singapore’s influential home affairs and law minister K. Shanmugam underscored that the republic was unapologetic about its hardline stance against drug trafficking, and for retaining capital punishment.
Asked by anchor Stephen Sackur if he thought the use of the mandatory death penalty was the right policy, Shanmugam said: “I don’t have any doubts”.
“Capital punishment is one aspect of a whole series of measures that we have, to deal with the drug abuse problems,” the minister said. “It’s imposed on drug traffickers, and it’s imposed because there’s clear evidence that it is a serious deterrent for would-be drug traffickers.”