The imminent hanging of Saridevi Zamani
For the first time in nearly two decades, Singapore is preparing to execute a woman, Saridevi Jamani. The 45-year-old Singaporean was convicted in 2018 for trafficking 30 grams (1.06 oz) of heroin. With his execution, Jamani will be the second drug convict to be executed within three days, after Mohammed Aziz bin Hussein. 15th convict since March 2022.
Singapore's strict anti-drug laws
Singapore's laws against drug trafficking are among the strictest in the world, arguing that they are necessary to protect society. Under these laws, the death penalty has been sanctioned for smuggling more than 15 grams of heroin or more than 500 grams of cannabis. Mohd Aziz Bin Hussain, a resident of Singapore, was convicted for trafficking 50 grams of heroin. Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said he received "full due process" in 2018, with his appeal against the conviction and sentence being rejected.
In April, another Singaporean, Tangaraju Suppaiah, was hanged for smuggling 1 kilogram (35 oz) of cannabis. Authorities said he planned the sale through his mobile phone, although he never physically touched the drug.
Criticism of Singapore's execution policies
However, there has been strong criticism of Singapore's execution policy. British billionaire Sir Richard Branson has spoken out against the city-state approach, saying that the death penalty does not stop crime. He expressed on Twitter that small drug traffickers need support as they are often forced out due to their circumstances and called for stopping the hanging of Sridevi Jamani.
Jamani case and historical context
Local media reported that during his trial, Zamani testified that he had stockpiled heroin for personal use during the Islamic fasting month. While not denying selling drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine from his flat, he downplayed the scale of those activities.
Jamani is one of two women currently on death row in Singapore, according to the Transformative Justice Collective, a Singapore-based human rights group. If she is hanged, she would be the first woman to face this fate since hairdresser Yen May Voen in 2004, who was also convicted of drug trafficking.
Debate on the effectiveness of the death penalty
Singapore's government says its tough drug laws have contributed to the country's status as one of the safest places in the world, and the death penalty for drug offenses has broad public support. However, this approach is not without opposition.
Critics, including Chiara Sangiorgio of Amnesty International, argue that there is no solid evidence to prove the unique deterrent effect of the death penalty on drug use and availability. He further said that these executions show that the government of Singapore is prepared to once again disregard international safeguards on the use of the death penalty.
Amnesty International says Singapore is one of four countries, along with China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, that have recently executed convicts for drug-related crimes.