Human rights groups urge Singapore to halt imminent executions

City-state expected to execute two men, including a Malaysian, following convictions for drug offences.

Singapore prison
View through a vehicle window shows cell blocks inside Singapore's Changi Prison [Vivek Prakash/Reuters]

Singapore is being urged to halt the planned execution on Friday of two men convicted of drug-related offences amid reports four people were hanged in the city-state in the past three weeks.

The family of 31-year-old Malaysian Prabu N Pathmanathan were informed last week he would be executed on Friday, human rights groups said. Another man is also scheduled to hang but has not been named.

“Singapore authorities must immediately halt plans to kill these men and put a stop to this recent wave of callous executions,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher, said in a statement.

Singapore reportedly hanged a man on Wednesday and three others on October 5 also for drug-related offences, the group said.

Amnesty: Almost 1,000 prisoners executed worldwide in 2017

Lawyers for Liberty, a Kuala Lumpur-based legal firm that specialises in human rights cases, urged the Malaysian government to intervene to stop the hanging.

Executions are usually carried out at dawn at Changi Prison.

“The death penalty is cruel and inhuman and particularly so when used in drugs cases, which results in the execution of drug mules from poor socio-economic backgrounds,” the firm’s N Surendran said in a statement.


Admitting time was “running out”, Surendran and Prabu’s mother and sister delivered an appeal for clemency to Singapore’s president, Halimah Yacob, on Thursday. 

“Malaysia has recognised the barbarity of the death penalty and has recently announced its total abolition. Having taken that position, the Malaysian government must do everything possible to save citizens abroad who are facing execution,” it said.

Malaysia’s government that was elected in May has suspended executions and announced its intention to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said he would write to the Singapore government to request Prabu’s death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, local media reported on Thursday. Prabu was sentenced to death in relation to the trafficking of 228kg of heroin into the island state at the end of 2014.

“It is time for Singapore to re-establish its moratorium on the death penalty and follow the government of Malaysia’s example,” Amnesty’s Chhoa-Howard said.

Amnesty said it believes Singapore has carried out six executions this year, all in relation to drug-offences. It said there were eight executions last year. Singapore does not publicly disclose information about its use of the death penalty.

Capital punishment was imposed or implemented for drug-related offences in 15 countries last year, but executions for such crimes were recorded in only four – China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

One-hundred and six countries across the world have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

Source: Al Jazeera