Singapore using ‘unlawful, brutal methods’ of hanging, claims lawyers’ group

Malaysian Abd Helmi Ab Halim was hanged in Singapore’s Changi Prison yesterday for trafficking in 16.56gm of diamorphine. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today said it has received “shocking information” that “unlawful and extremely brutal methods” are used in carrying out hangings by the Singapore Prison Services (SPS).

“We are prepared to reveal this evidence, supplied by prison officers, in due course,” LFL’s adviser N Surendran said in a statement.

Surendran criticised Singapore’s claim that the execution of a Malaysian for drug trafficking yesterday was justified as part of its “anti-drug strategy”.

He described the statement by Singapore’s law and home ministries as a “combination of dishonest excuses and false statements” and “breathtakingly arrogant”.

LFL was responding to the execution of Abd Helmi Ab Halim in Changi Prison for trafficking in 16.56gm of diamorphine.

Helmi, who was 36, was arrested on April 9, 2015 and sentenced to death on March 24, 2017. His plea for clemency was rejected in July this year.

Surendran said the Singapore statement issued last night “deliberately and dishonestly” avoided admitting to the fact that Helmi was hanged for “allegedly trafficking a mere 16gm of drugs”.

“The punishment of death over just 16gm is clearly disproportionate and a grave injustice,” he said.

He criticised Singapore’s suggestion that Malaysia was not doing enough to arrest drug kingpins.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran.

“This is an undiplomatic swipe at a friendly neighbour. It is intended to hide the fact that Singapore itself has done little to catch the drug kingpins, while regularly executing low-level drug mules.

“It is significant that Singapore is unable to point to a single major drug kingpin arrest by their own enforcement bodies.”

Surendran said Singapore’s claim that the death penalty had been an effective deterrent against drug trafficking was a lie.

“There are no known studies or statistics proving this, and the statement also does not provide any such evidence.”

He also described as “false” the claim that the use of the death penalty for drug crimes in Singapore was “in accordance with its international law obligations”.

“The UN Human Rights Committee as well as UN Special Rapporteurs have categorically stated that the death penalty for drug crimes contravenes international standards and amounts to unlawful killing.

“By ignoring these norms and standards, Singapore is rapidly becoming an international pariah nation,” he said.

LFL urged the Singapore government to emulate Malaysia’s example by placing a moratorium on executions for drug offences and reviewing the imposition of the death penalty for drug offences.