Authorities related Tangaraju s/o Suppiah, 46, to an attempted exchange of cannabis in September 2013 by a cellphone quantity that he denied accessing on the time. He was sentenced to hold in 2018, underneath Singapore’s near-mandatory demise penalty coverage for trafficking greater than 1.1 kilos of hashish. He shall be hanged Wednesday except a last-minute attraction to Singapore’s president for clemency is granted.
Tangaraju’s household and rights teams allege that his rights weren’t adequately protected, and have referred to as on the federal government to instantly halt the execution. They allege that he was interrogated with out authorized counsel — Singapore doesn’t require that individuals underneath questioning be supplied quick entry to a lawyer — and denied requests for a Tamil-language interpreter. His conviction relied on cellphone information, however prosecutors weren’t in a position to recuperate his cell phone for evaluation, court docket paperwork present.
Singapore’s Residence Affairs Ministry didn’t straight reply to questions despatched by The Washington Put up. It pointed to a statement by its Central Narcotics Bureau, which stated that capital punishment is “used just for probably the most critical crimes” as a part of town’s “complete hurt prevention technique which targets each drug demand and provide.” It stated that Tangaraju was “accorded full due course of underneath the regulation” and referred to as the assertion he had requested an interpreter “disingenuous.”
The deliberate execution has additionally been condemned by worldwide opponents of capital punishment. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, wrote in an e-mail that Tangaraju’s therapy was “not ok when the sentence is so completely closing and irreversible,” including that the execution was one other try to show Singapore’s tough-on-drugs coverage. British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who has publicly sparred with Singapore over capital punishment, called the choice “surprising” and “harking back to medieval occasions.”
Singapore has justified its tough drugs policy on its proximity to the Golden Triangle, a Southeast Asian area that may be a main gateway for illicit drug manufacturing and trafficking. However a lot of its neighbors have just lately softened their stance: Thailand legalized the expansion and commerce of hashish in 2022, whereas Malaysia the identical yr moved to finish its use of the obligatory demise penalty for nonviolent drug offenses. In the US, at least 21 states have loosened restrictions on hashish to permit for restricted nonmedical use.
However that seems unlikely in Singapore, whose strict coverage on drug crimes has made it an outlier amongst different equally rich international locations. Singapore executed at least 11 people for drug offenses in 2022, in line with Hurt Discount Worldwide. The U.Okay.-based nonprofit, which advocates for treating drug habit as a medical downside, stated that Singapore is considered one of lower than a dozen international locations — together with Yemen, Iran and Sudan — that has obligatory capital punishment for some drug offenses.
A 3rd of U.S. executions went flawed in 2022, watchdog says
Tangaraju’s hanging would be the first recognized execution in Singapore since October, in line with journalist Kirsten Han, who campaigns towards capital punishment. The nation’s use of the demise penalty additionally got here underneath worldwide scrutiny final yr, when an intellectually disabled Malaysian man was put to demise for trafficking a small quantity of heroin.
Han stated in a press release that Singapore is out of sync with a world transferring away from capital punishment and “uncompromising ‘struggle on medicine’ approaches which have disproportionately affected probably the most marginalized and minoritised in society.”
“Greater than medicine, it’s our drug coverage that ruins lives in Singapore,” stated Kokila Annamalai, an activist towards capital punishment.
The Singaporean authorities, reportedly a leader in organizing international opposition towards loosening drug restrictions, maintains its insurance policies are profitable in curbing narcotics use. It has additionally stated that activists “glamorize the lives of drug traffickers, slightly than deal with the lives of the victims.”
Many international locations have moved to a harm-reduction method to drug coverage, stated Mai Sato, who research the demise penalty at Australia’s Monash College, including that the struggle on medicine has created what the United Nations has referred to as a “profitable and violent black market.”
“On this sense,” Mai stated, states “that impose the demise penalty for drug offenses are actually a part of the illicit drug market.”