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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Singapore: UN experts propose quick death penalty repeal

Singapore (CU)_ According to a joint statement issued by a panel of eleven UN experts, states that have still not eliminated the death penalty may only use it for the most serious crimes, and according to the international law, only crimes of extreme severity such as purposeful killing should be deemed as most serious. They argued, “Drug offenses clearly do not meet this threshold”.

The experts denounced Singapore’s March and April executions of Malaysians Abdul Kahar bin Othman and Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, respectively, for charges of drug trafficking. Mr. Dharmalingam was hanged despite assertions that he had an intellectual impairment, which is a declining mental health condition, and was a victim of human trafficking. According to the experts, “Executions of persons with intellectual disabilities and for drug-related offences are a violation of the right to life and the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and amount to unlawful killings”.

ohchr.com

In addition, they asked the government to cease any plans to kill another Malaysian man convicted of a similar crime and to immediately institute an official moratorium on all executions with a view to fully abolishing the death penalty. In May 2015, Datchinamurthy Kataiah was given the death sentence for smuggling 44.96 grams of diamorphine into Singapore from Malaysia. Although his execution was planned for April 29, 2022, he was given a reprieve until May 20.

In compliance with international human rights legislation and norms, they requested that the Singaporean government reduce his death sentence to jail terms. In addition, the UN experts expressed concern on the unfair treatment of minority members, such as Mr. Kataiah, and claims of reprisals against their legal counsel. The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council designated Special Rapporteurs and independent experts to investigate and report on a particular human rights issue or a country’s situation. The posts are honorary, and the experts do not get payment for their work.

The declaration reaffirmed that the mandatory use of the death sentence is “an arbitrary deprivation of life” since it is enforced without any consideration of the personal circumstances of the offender or the nature of the specific crime. In conclusion, they said, “As a first step, the Government of Singapore should review, without delay, the scope of the death penalty, particularly with regard to drug-related offences, in order to ensure that its imposition and implementation are strictly limited to cases involving intentional killing”.

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