Singapore urged to halt double execution planned for Wednesday

Families of two men convicted of drug offences were informed of plans to carry out the executions a week ago.

Hangman's noose
Singapore plans to hang two men on Wednesday, the first executions since 2019 [File: AP Photo]

Calls are growing for Singapore to not go ahead with plans to execute two men convicted of drug trafficking offences, on Wednesday.

The families of local man Roslan Bakar and Malaysian Pausi Jefridin were informed of plans for the executions on February 9, according to the Transformative Justice Collective (TJC), which campaigns for the reform of the criminal justice system and the abolition of the death penalty.

If the executions are carried out they will be the first since November 2019.

“Following more than two years of no executions in 2020 and 2021, it is appalling that the Singapore government is planning to resume this cruel practice imminently,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher, said in a statement, urging the city-state to impose a moratorium.

TJC said Pausi’s family, who live in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, had struggled to find flights and had been forced to go through quarantine, while Roslan’s lawyer was on medical leave and not practising so he was without legal representation.

Pausi has an IQ of 67, well below the average of 100.

Lawyers for Liberty, a Malaysian group of lawyers, said a last minute appeal on behalf of both men had been filed to the Singapore courts and would be heard at 2.30pm (06:30 GMT).

A judge previously said that Pausi’s low IQ was not sufficient reason for him to be resentenced to life imprisonment because it did not constitute “evidence of an abnormality of mind”, according to anti-death penalty activist Kirsten Han. Judges were given leeway to replace the previously mandatory death penalty with life imprisonment and caning in specific cases after an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2012.

At the end of 2021, a last-ditch appeal against execution by Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, another Malaysian also convicted of drug offences, was postponed amid a public outcry.

A number of medical experts had found Nagaenthran to have borderline intellectual functioning and cognitive deficits, which they said could have affected his ability to make informed decisions.

Amnesty noted that the global trend towards abolition continued and that neighbouring Malaysia had imposed a moratorium since July 2018 as it considers alternatives to capital punishment. More than 1,000 people are on death row in Malaysia. As in Singapore, many are sentenced to death for drug offences.

“It is high time for Singapore to re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards full abolition,” Chhoa-Howard said. “The global trend towards abolition continues unabated, with the majority of the world’s governments having abolished the cruel punishment in law or in practice.”

Nagaenthran’s appeal has been postponed several times and is expected to be heard next month.

He was caught trying to enter Singapore with just under 43 grams of diamorphine (heroin) strapped to his thigh in 2009 and was sentenced to death a year later.

Source: Al Jazeera