2 March 2012
On Thursday, 1 March 2012, The Straits Times published a special report on the death penalty in Singapore. As the death penalty is not often being discussed in the mainstream media, the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) welcomes the publication of the report and hope that it will lead to more public discussions on this issue. We would however, like to address a few points in our response.
1. In Singapore, where murder is a condemned crime, euthanasia is banned and suicides frowned upon, the existence of the death penalty and mandatory death penalty (MDP) is an irony that contradicts government’s and society’s effort to advocate on the sanctity of an existing human life.
2. The practice of death by hanging as a capital punishment also contradicts the campaign message of the Yellow Ribbon Project that was launched in 2004 by former President of Singapore, Mr S R. Nathan, which seeks to advocate for society to give ex-offenders and their families a second chance, accept and support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into the society.
3. Death row inmates in Singapore consist mainly of drug mules, murderers and firearm criminals, whose cases are often not highlighted by the mainstream media with the intention to encourage public discussions on 1) the death penalty and alternative forms of punishment and 2) the root causes of capital offences.
4. Public knowledge of the death penalty, especially with regards to the MDP under the Misuse of Drugs Act, is also limited due to the lack of information readily available through education and within the mainstream media.
5. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice but Singapore remains one of the countries that still holds on to such a practice claiming that the death penalty is an effective deterrent on capital offences. However, the absence of research and statistics on how the death penalty has contributed as a deterrent towards capital offences has brought us to question the deterrent factor of the death penalty in Singapore. SADPC would like to urge the government of Singapore to look into alternative methods of punishment that seek to rehabilitate criminals as well as to grant them the chance to become useful members of the society.
6. We would also like to take this opportunity to commend Singapore’s only human rights lawyer M Ravi in his legal cause against the death penalty and MDP. Ravi has worked tirelessly over the past few years to save death row inmates, mainly drug mules, from execution. Besides his legal work, he has also rendered emotional support towards the families of the inmates that he represents.
7. In other countries, a lawyer like Ravi would have been honoured with respect but in Singapore, he has often been criticised and some of his methods have been touted as ‘publicity stunts’ by his counterparts. The SADPC wishes to express our heartfelt appreciation to Ravi in recognising the efforts that he has contributed towards the cause. Without his passion and determination, 2010 would not have been an execution-less year for Singapore.
For media enquiries, please contact the following:
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign