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Singapore executes first woman convict in 20 years for trafficking 31g of heroin


The Merlion statue at Marina Bay in Singapore. — AFP/File
The Merlion statue at Marina Bay in Singapore. — AFP/File

Singapore, on Friday, executed a woman for drug trafficking, marking its first execution in almost 20 years, despite calls for a cessation of capital punishment for crimes involving drugs.

Saridewi Djamani, 45, was sentenced to death in 2018 for trafficking nearly 31 grams (1.09 ounces) of diamorphine, which was enough to feed 370 abusers for a week, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau.

Djamani’s execution, which came after that of a Singaporean man, Mohammed Aziz Hussain, 56, for trafficking around 50 grams (1.75 ounces) of heroin, will be followed by another execution set for next week.

The death penalty has been mandated by Singapore’s laws for anyone convicted of trafficking more than 500 grammes (17.64 ounces) of cannabis and 15 grammes (0.53 ounces) of heroin.

According to the drugs department, both inmates had due process, which included the ability to appeal their conviction and punishment as well as submit a request for a presidential pardon, NBC reported.

Singapore’s capital punishment is urged to halt executions for drug offenses, as human rights groups, activists, and the UN argue it is ineffective as a deterrent. 

Since resuming hangings in March 2022, Singapore has executed 15 people, an average of one a month, according to human rights groups.

The country, which ranks second best tourist attraction in Southeast Asia, hanged its last woman, 36-year-old hairdresser Yen May Woen, in 2004 for drug trafficking, according to anti-death penalty activists.

Singapore’s Transformative Justice Collective, a group which advocates for the abolishment of capital punishment, said a new execution notice has been issued to an ethnic Malay citizen, who was convicted in 2019 for trafficking around 50 grams of heroin.

The prisoner, who worked as a delivery driver before his arrest in 2016, was convicted of delivering contraband cigarettes for a friend who owed money.

However, the group claims the man believed he was delivering contraband cigarettes and didn’t verify the contents of the bag.

The court found the man a courier, but he still faced the mandatory death penalty on 3 August and will count as the fifth this year alone.

The group statement says that it “condemns, in the strongest terms, the state’s bloodthirsty streak” and reiterated calls for an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.”

Singapore’s harsh policy targets low-level traffickers and couriers, recruited from marginalised groups, and is out of line with countries like Thailand legalising cannabis and Malaysia ending the death penalty for serious crimes.


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