A Singaporean man convicted of attempting to visitors round 2.2 kilos of hashish was executed on Wednesday, a sentence lambasted by rights teams and campaigners for its severity at a time when many different nations, together with neighboring international locations, have adopted a extra lenient method in direction of medicine and capital punishment.
Whereas hashish has been legalized in a rising variety of nations worldwide, Singapore maintains among the world’s harshest drug legal guidelines and its authorities stays adamant that capital punishment works to discourage drug traffickers and should stay in place to take care of public security.
Tangaraju Suppiah, a 46-year-old Singaporean, was put to dying on Wednesday in Changi Jail, Singapore Jail Service stated in a short assertion.
His sister Leelavathy Suppiah advised CNN that her brother had been hanged and that the household had obtained a dying certificates. It was Singapore’s first execution in six months.
Within the days main as much as Tangaraju being despatched to the gallows, members of the family and activists made public appeals for clemency and questioned the protection of his conviction. The European Union’s workplace within the metropolis state and a United Nations’ rights workplace had additionally known as for Singapore to not perform his hanging.
Tangaraju was sentenced to dying in 2018 for “abetting the trafficking of multiple kilogram of hashish (1,017.9 grams),” in response to an announcement from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). The court docket discovered he was in cellphone communication with two different males caught attempting to smuggle hashish into Singapore.
Earlier appeals in opposition to his conviction and dying sentence had been dismissed by the courts in 2019 whereas petitions for presidential clemency had been additionally unsuccessful, CNB added.
“Tangaraju was accorded full due course of beneath the legislation and had entry to authorized counsel all through the method,” CNB’s assertion stated whereas describing capital punishment as “a part of Singapore’s complete hurt prevention technique.”
Relations and rights teams who took up Tangaraju’s trigger rejected the federal government’s claims and detailed why they believed his dying sentence conviction was unsafe.
“Tangaraju’s conviction relied primarily on statements from his police interrogation – taken with no lawyer and interpreter current – and the testimony of his two co-accused, certainly one of which had his costs dismissed,” Amnesty Worldwide stated.
“In international locations that haven’t but abolished this punishment, worldwide safeguards require that the dying penalty be imposed solely when the guilt of the particular person charged is predicated upon clear and convincing proof leaving no room for another clarification of the info – and after a authorized course of which provides all attainable safeguards to make sure a good trial,” Amnesty added.
Tangaraju’s sister Leelavathy spoke of her brother’s anguish and willpower earlier than his dying sentence was carried out.
“Even from inside jail, he wished to combat for his innocence,” she advised CNN. “He believed that there could be a good trial and wished to show his innocence – each step of the best way.”
The Transformative Justice Collective (TJC), a neighborhood abolitionist motion, highlighted what they stated had been “severe issues” with proof used to convict Tangaraju, describing it as “shockingly skinny.”
“The case in opposition to Tangaraju is essentially circumstantial and primarily based on inferences,” TJC stated in a collection of statements.
“He by no means touched the hashish he was accused of trying to visitors. He was tied to the offense by two cellphone numbers discovered on the cell phones of two males arrested by the CNB – certainly one of which had been used to coordinate the hashish supply.”
“Tangaraju was already in remand for a separate offense by the point he was linked to this case – and his cell phones had been by no means recovered for evaluation,” the group added.
Final yr Thailand grew to become the primary nation in Asia to decriminalize hashish following years of campaigning by activists on the bottom.
In the meantime Malaysia, Singapore’s closest neighbor, handed sweeping authorized reforms earlier this month to take away the obligatory dying penalty and trimmed the variety of offenses, together with drug crimes, punishable by dying – a transfer welcomed by rights defenders.
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“It’s notably outrageous that Tangaraju was arrested, convicted and executed for a hashish associated offense when a lot of the world is transferring ahead with hashish legalization primarily based on medical assessments,” Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director of Human Rights Watch, advised CNN.
“Placing him to dying additionally exhibits simply how far Singapore has fallen behind Malaysia – its leaders like to say that their nation is extra trendy and developed however within the case of felony justice and the dying penalty, Singapore is clearly the laggard,” Robertson added.
“As soon as once more, Singapore exhibits how utterly out of step they’re with the fundamental ideas of human rights, proportionality in felony punishments and justice,” Robertson stated.
However the Singapore authorities has continued to withstand requires reform, finishing up eleven executions final yr alone, all for drug associated trafficking offenses.
Underneath the legislation, anybody caught trafficking, importing or exporting sure portions of unlawful medicine like methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or hashish merchandise receives the obligatory dying sentence.
“Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance stance in opposition to medicine and applies a multi-pronged method to fight medicine,” the Ministry of Dwelling Affairs stated in an announcement responding to worldwide criticism of Tangaraju’s execution.
“The dying penalty is a vital part of Singapore’s felony justice system and has been efficient in maintaining Singapore protected and safe.”
The Ministry of Dwelling Affairs additionally rejected the criticisms made by rights teams, arguing the case in opposition to Tangaraju had been “confirmed past an inexpensive doubt” and that the proof “clearly confirmed that he was the particular person coordinating the supply of medication, for the aim of trafficking.”
The ministry’s assertion was printed in response to abroad criticism of Tangaraju’s imminent execution, together with from British billionaire Richard Branson, an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.
“Killing individuals for allegedly smuggling hashish is especially merciless and misguided, on condition that extra international locations are actually introducing wise drug coverage by decriminalizing and regulating each medicinal and leisure hashish,” Branson wrote on a weblog on his firm’s web site.
Australian lawmaker Graham Perrett additionally stated Tangaraju’s execution “violated worldwide legislation requirements.” “Think about being hanged by the neck till you might be lifeless due to a little bit of weed,” Perrett, a member of the Labor Get together, wrote on Fb.
“As is the case for many individuals at the moment on dying row in Singapore, Tangaraju was compelled to characterize himself to hunt a evaluate of the Court docket of Attraction’s choice to uphold his conviction. Singapore has a robust repute as a rule of legislation nation so this regarding omission isn’t regular,” Perrett added.
The European Union’s delegation to Singapore additionally known as on authorities to halt the execution.
“The EU and our international locations strongly oppose the usage of capital punishment always and in all circumstances, which may by no means be justified – and advocate for Singapore to undertake a moratorium on all executions as a constructive first step in direction of its abolition,” the block stated in an announcement.
The UN’s rights workplace stated it had “considerations round due course of and respect for honest trial ensures”.
“The dying penalty continues to be being utilized in a small variety of international locations, largely due to the parable that it deters crime. Growing proof, nonetheless, exhibits it’s ineffective as a deterrent,” spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani stated in an announcement.