Amnesty Urges Singapore to Stop Executions

SINGAPORE ~ Human rights watchdog Amnesty International asked Singapore this week to make public “comprehensive information” about its use of the death penalty and again urged the government to stop executions.

Singapore’s continued use of the death penalty for criminal offences, including drug trafficking, goes against a global trend that has seen several countries abolish capital punishment, Amnesty said in a statement.

“Amnesty International recognizes the seriousness of these crimes and supports all calls for justice,” the London-based watchdog said.

But it said it “opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the most fundamental human right: the right to life.”

Amnesty said it had asked Singapore to make public “comprehensive information about the state’s use of the death penalty” but the government had yet to provide annual statistics from 1993 to the present.

The rights watchdog said a Ghanian man, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, 20, was sentenced in December to hang for trafficking of cannabis and his alleged accomplice, a Zambian woman, was feared to be given the death penalty as well.

The death penalty is mandatory for trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine and 500 grams of cannabis.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs did not immediately reply to the AFP newswire on its response to the latest criticism, which followed last week’s hanging of a gangster for the gunning down of a nightclub owner.

Amnesty said Singapore, with a population of more than four million, has one of the highest per capita execution rates in the world. Singapore executed 420 people between 1991 and 2004, Amnesty said.

The Singapore government maintains capital punishment is important in keeping crime down and a strong deterrent to organized crime gangs.

Singapore is one of nine states in the Asia Pacific region that still have the death penalty, Amnesty said.

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