19 Oct 2004
highest number of per capita executions in the world
Coments by Mellanie Hewlitt:
The twisted logic of Singapore's judiciary is mind boggling. In a separate case, the death penalty was not imposed on soldiers who held a trainee's head underwater resulting directly in the trainee's death.
However mere possesion of drugs warrants a death penalty whilst pre-meditated murder invokes a lesser sentence (in a military court). Such is the twisted logic which governs Singapore's compliant courts.
Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:04 PM ET
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Rights group Amnesty challenged Singapore Tuesday to disclose the total number of executions this year, saying the wealthy island has put more people to death since 1991 than any other country on a per capita basis.
"In the absence of full disclosure of official statistics, the organization remains concerned that Singapore may continue to have the highest number of per capita executions in the world," Amnesty International Southeast Asian official Tim Parritt said.
Amnesty's call comes a day before Singapore's Court of Appeal rules on the case of 24-year-old Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, an ethnic Vietnamese man found guilty in March of smuggling 14 ounces of heroin and sentenced to death.
About 400 people have been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the Southeast Asian island of 4.2 million people possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population, Amnesty said.
Singapore's drug laws are among the world's harshest. Anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 15 grammes of heroin faces mandatory execution by hanging.
Nguyen's lawyers appealed the verdict and the London-based human rights group said it would seek clemency from Singapore President S.R. Nathan if the death sentence is upheld.
Amnesty said in January that executions in Singapore were "shockingly high" and "shrouded in secrecy," calling on the state to abolish the death penality by issuing a moratorium on all executions and commuting all death sentences to prison terms.
Singapore's government said it imposed capital punishment "only for the most serious crimes," that the death penalty deterred major drug syndicates establishing themselves in Singapore and that Singapore applied standards of transparency.
Although prison officials confirmed last year that about 400 people had been executed since 1991, government officials declined requests by Reuters to specify how many people have been sent to the gallows this year.
"There is this climate of secrecy," Parritt told Reuters by telephone from London. "It's shrouded with half-disclosure, and that continues. We believe this should be out in full public debate."
Nguyen was arrested at Singapore's airport in December 2002 while in transit from Cambodia to Melbourne. A policewoman discovered a package of heroin taped to his back during a pre-flight security check, and another in his hand luggage.
He said had carried the drugs for a Sydney-based drug syndicate to pay off legal fees owed by his twin brother.
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.