The United Nations and Amnesty International Tuesday urged Singapore not to resume executions after two years with no hangings.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement calling on Singapore to halt the executions of two men jailed on drug charges. Roslan Bin Bakar and Pausi Bin Jefridin were arrested in 2008 and convicted in 2010 and have been on death row for twelve years. They were reportedly informed last week that their execution had been scheduled for February 16. The OHCHR expressed concerns that one or both men may have intellectual disabilities.
The OHCHR said that the use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses is incompatible with international human rights law, which holds that the death penalty can only be imposed for the “most serious crimes,” interpreted as grave crimes involving intentional killing. The office also said that the death penalty has not been an effective deterrent globally, noting instead that persons on death row, as well as their families, often suffer a variety of human rights violations. OHCHR called upon the Singapore government to commute the two men’s sentences and commit to legislation to bring about an end to the death penalty.
Amnesty International also released a statement, noting that the last known execution in Singapore was in November 2019. Singapore researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard called the impending resumption of executions “appalling” and asserted that sentencing drug offenders to be executed “is in breach of restrictions under international law.” She noted that the trend globally has been toward abolishing the death penalty, either by law or in practice, including Singapore’s neighbor Malaysia, which last executed someone in 2018. “It is high time for Singapore to re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards full abolition,” she said.