Shocking Turn of Events: Singapore Executes Woman After 20 Years
Saridewi Djamani was hanged in Singapore, the city-state’s first woman to be put to death in nearly 20 years, despite protests from human rights organizations.
The Central Narcotics Bureau reported that the 45-year-old Singaporean national, who received a death sentence in 2018 for distributing about 30g of heroin, was put to death early on Friday.
According to the local rights organization Transformative Justice Collective, she is thought to be the first woman to be put to death in Singapore since Yen May Woen, a 36-year-old hairdresser, was hanged for drug trafficking in 2004.
Saridewi had argued that because she was going through drug withdrawal at the time, she was unable to provide the police with accurate statements.
However, a High Court judge disagreed, concluding that Sridevi was “suffering from mild to moderate methamphetamine withdrawal during the period of taking the statement” and that this did not compromise her ability to make the statement.
The International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy had pleaded with the Singaporean government to put an end to the execution.
She is the 15th person to be executed by the government since they resumed carrying them out in March 2022, making Saridewi the second person to be put to death this week and the second person to be executed this week.
Campaigners claim that since the pandemic, when executions were suspended for two years, the city-state has executed one person on average every month. Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, a 56-year-old Malay man from Singapore, was executed on Wednesday due to drug-related charges.
Amnesty International death penalty expert Chiara Sangiorgio claimed that this past week had shed a harsh and tragic light on Singapore’s total lack of death penalty reform. Amnesty has urged governments to exert greater pressure on Singapore to end its harsh approach to drug control policies, as well as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotics Control Board.
The government of Singapore maintains that the death penalty deters drug-related crime, keeps the city-state safe, and has broad public support. It also claims that its legal procedures are impartial.
According to the Central Narcotics Bureau, Saridewi received full legal due process and was represented by a lawyer throughout.
The punishment is disproportionate, according to activists, and ends up targeting the most marginalized and vulnerable people. They also dispute that it is a particularly effective deterrent. They claim that because they cannot access solicitors, prisoners are increasingly representing themselves during and after their appeals.
Michel Kazatchkine, a participant in the Global Commission on Drug Policy, described the executions as upsetting and shocking. He declared that this fundamentally contravenes international human rights law because it is a disproportionate punishment.
A second prisoner has been given notice that his execution is scheduled for Thursday of the following week, according to the Transformative Justice Collective, which campaigns for changes to Singapore’s criminal justice system. 2019 saw the conviction of the man, a former delivery driver, for trafficking about 50g of heroin. The group claimed that he had insisted throughout both his trial and appeal that he had thought he was delivering illegal cigarettes on behalf of a friend to whom he owed money. Last year, his appeal was denied.
Prisoners typically receive notices of impending executions a week in advance. Daily visitors are permitted for prisoners in the days preceding their execution, but they must remain behind a glass window and are not permitted to make physical contact. In the days before the inmate is killed, a photo session is optional and intended to give families a memory. Family members are permitted to bring the prisoner’s special clothing.
The government and courts moved like a machine spinning harder and harder to make up lost time, Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, claimed. They were determined to ostensibly empty death row as soon as possible. The bottom line, he claimed, is that Singapore is merely emphasizing how far Singapore is, in terms of both the death penalty and human rights, from the international mainstream.
According to the Central Narcotics Bureau, the death penalty is only applied to the most serious crimes, such as the trafficking of large amounts of drugs that endanger not only individual drug users but also their families and the larger community. The comprehensive harm prevention strategy of Singapore, which addresses both drug demand and supply, includes the death penalty.