10th World Day Against the Death Penalty
It has been a decade since the World Day Against the Death Penalty was first commemorated. In the past decade, the world has seen a progressive decrease in the use of the death penalty.
According to the latest statistics provided by World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, 97 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 8 countries have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes and 36 countries have abolished the death penalty in practice. In total, 141 countries are abolitionist in law or in practice.
Singapore, a country that has been practicing the use of both the death penalty and the mandatory death penalty, will be seeing slight amendments made in the use of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking and homicide.
As we applaud the global changes that have been observed over the past decade and acknowledge the small steps taken by the Singapore Government, we recognise that our work in advocating for the abolition of the death penalty continues. We cannot overlook the fact that the death penalty still exists in our own backyard, guarded defensively by authorities who claim that it is a necessary evil that works as a deterrent towards heinous crimes and drug trafficking.
As the newly formed Singapore Working Group on Death Penalty, we would like to emphasize our position against the use of death penalty and the mandatory death penalty by stating that:
- The death penalty and mandatory death penalty is an irreversible, ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment and it fundamentally goes against Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”;
- The abolition of the death penalty will contribute to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights;
- The death penalty is not a deterrent for crimes as there are many factors including ignorance, mental conditions and social factors that nullifies any deterrence effect.
Until the death penalty is fully abolished in Singapore, we will continue our call for a paradigm shift in our judicial system and principles – a shift away from the emphasis on retributive justice and move towards the restorative aspects of justice. With this in view, we make the following recommendations to the Singapore Government:
- To continue the current stay on executions and establish an official moratorium to create the time and space for society to explore alternative sentencing options and to work ultimately towards the abolishment of the death penalty;
- To make available statistics and other factual information on the use of the death penalty, which is already an accepted recommendation in the Universal Periodic Review by the Singapore Government
- Ratify the International Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] and the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty;
- With due regard to articles 10 and 15 of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), recognise that no persons with disabilities – including persons with mental or intellectual disabilities – should be subjected to the death penalty.
We also take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment towards the abolition of the death penalty in Singapore, and express our support and solidarity with friends and fellow abolitionists locally, regionally and internationally.
Singapore Working Group on Death Penalty
13 October 2012
About the Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty (SWGDP)
The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty (SWGDP) is a collaboration between Think Centre, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign and We Believe in Second Chances. We have come together as concerned Singaporeans to advocate for changes that we strongly believe will lead to a better Singapore where every individual enjoys the full “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights” as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
We are motivated by Article 3 of the UDHR that proclaims “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Every nation including Singapore and every individual must “promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures” ensure “effective recognition and observance among the people”.
Under this collaboration, we work together to enhance our collective capacity to conduct research, projects and events. Through our outreach programmes, we hope to raise awareness and trigger much-needed public debate on issues surrounding the death penalty in Singapore.
 The Singapore Working Group on Death Penalty comprises the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign, We believe in Second Chances and Think Centre.