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Rights Groups Rally Against Singapore Over Planned Execution of First Woman in 20 Years

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CHANGI, Singapore – Rights organisations are rallying against Singapore’s decision to execute two drug convicts this week, including the first woman to face the gallows in almost 20 years.

The Transformative Justice Collective, TJC, a local rights group, said that a 56-year-old man, convicted of trafficking 50 grams of heroin, must be hanged on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Changi Prison, Singapore’s primary detention center.

Additionally, Saridewi Djamani, a 45-year-old woman sentenced to death in 2018 for trafficking approximately 30 grams of heroin, is set to be executed on Friday, July 28, 2023.

Djamani would be the first woman to be executed in Singapore since 2004 when 36-year-old hairdresser Yen May Woen was hanged for drug trafficking.

“The impending execution of Saridewi Djamani marks a disturbing milestone in Singapore’s judicial history,” said TJC activist Kokila Annamalai. “This serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing and gender-blind implementation of the death penalty.”

TJC reported that both prisoners are Singaporean nationals, and their families have received formal notices of their impending executions.

The Singaporean prison authorities have not yet responded to requests for confirmation.

Singapore employs the death penalty for certain crimes, including murder and some forms of kidnapping.

It also maintains some of the world’s strictest anti-drug laws: trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis and 15 grams of heroin can lead to capital punishment.

Since lifting a two-year pause on executions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singaporean government has hanged at least 13 people.

Amnesty International, the international human rights watchdog, joined TJC on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, urging Singapore to halt the imminent executions.

“It is unconscionable that authorities in Singapore continue to pursue more executions in the name of drug control cruelly,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty’s death penalty expert. “There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect or that it impacts the use and availability of drugs.”

Sangiorgio added, “As countries worldwide do away with the death penalty and embrace drug policy reform, Singapore’s authorities are doing neither.”

Despite the widespread condemnation, Singapore continues to assert that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime.

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