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As Trial in South Carolina Execution-Method Challenge Begins, Review of State’s Death Penalty Reveals System that is Biased, Arbitrary, and Error-Prone

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As the trial challenging South Carolina’s execution methods began on August 1, 2022, a review of the state’s death penalty by the Greenville News revealed a pattern of discrimination, geographic arbitrariness, and high error rates in the implementation of the punishment.  In a two-part examination, reporter Kathryn Casteel analyzed racial and county demographics on death row, reversal rates in capital cases, and the timing of death sentences to provide context for the state’s efforts to institute the electric chair and firing squad as its primary execution methods. RELATED |  Future of South Carolina death penalty now rests with judge Four of South Carolina’s 35 death-row prisoners are suing the state to block a law that would force them to choose between electrocution and firing squad as methods of execution. One of the men, Richard Moore, wrote in an April legal filing, “I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution.” Executions ar

Singapore | Man executed for trafficking cannabis

Malay man had been in prison for 7 years before mandatory death sentence carried out.

A 49-year-old man in a Singapore prison since 2015 for trafficking cannabis was put to death this week.

A tweet from writer, researcher and community organizer Kokila Annamalai noted that confirmation had been received that the man was executed at Changi Prison after earlier being convicted of cannabis trafficking.

Many people who commented on Annamalai’s post voiced frustration.

“Killed for selling the plant my dad grows in his back garden in Canada,” one poster wrote. “I’m hoping that the rise of social media disrupts the Singaporean government’s media stranglehold on narrative and leads to real change,” added another.

Drug trafficking carries a death sentence


According to Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), a government agency, a person convicted of illegally trafficking, importing or exporting cannabis “may face the death penalty,” depending on the amount of drug involved.


The High Commission of Canada in Singapore reports the state’s “drug laws are among the toughest in the world. Penalties for the possession of small amounts of drugs are up to 10 years in jail or fines of up to $20,000 or both.”

Drug trafficking is dealt with even more severely. A mandatory death penalty applies for those convicted of trafficking 15 grams or more of heroin, 30 grams or more of cocaine, 200 grams or more of hashish, 500 grams or more of cannabis and 1,200 grams or more of opium.

According to High Times, Singaporean executions are carried out by “long-drop hanging”. For canings — which are sometimes used for drug offences — a metre-long cane about a centimetre in diameter is employed.

“Singapore’s comprehensive approach to tackling both drug supply and demand has allowed us to remain relatively drug-free,” notes the CNB information.

“Cannabis is clearly addictive and harmful, and there is no scientific evidence of the safety and efficacy of raw cannabis use,” the agency reports. “This supports our position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug. Decriminalization and legalization of cannabis is not the way to go, especially when our drug situation is well under control,” it adds.

Thailand recently became the first country in Asia to legalize growing and selling cannabis for medicinal purposes, even putting in place a plan to distribute 1 million weed plants for free. Per Cannigma, South Korea legalized medical marijuana in 2018.

That said, recreational cannabis remains technically or explicitly illegal in both countries.

Latest hanging makes 6 executions for drug trafficking since late March


Since Mar. 30, the day a 68-year-old Singaporean convicted of drug trafficking was hanged, La Prensa Latina reports that Singapore has had five other confirmed executions. All have reportedly involved drug trafficking.

Annamalai tweeted that the Malay man “was one of 17 prisoners who had filed a historic suit accusing the Singapore state of racial bias in their prosecutions in capital punishment cases.” That suit, however, was dismissed in 2021.

Just days before the Malay man’s reported hanging, Chiara Sangorgio, Amnesty International’s death penalty expert, noted on July 22 that 5 people were hanged in Singapore in less than 4 months.

“This relentless wave of hangings must stop immediately. The use of the death penalty in Singapore, including as mandatory punishment for drug-related offences, violates international human rights law and standards,” Sangorgio argued.

“We call on governments, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotics Control Board to increase pressure on Singapore so that international safeguards on the death penalty are respected and drug control policies are rooted in the promotion and protection of human rights. Singapore’s highly punitive approach does neither,” she added.

Singapore ministry argues death sentence has reduced drug offences


“Singapore is just one of four countries known to have executed people for drug-related offences in recent years,” Amnesty International reports.

Per Bloomberg, the government in neighbouring Malaysia has noted it plans to abolish mandatory death sentences for 11 offences, including drug crimes.

That is not the case in Singapore.

Citing figures from the Home Ministry, Bloomberg noted the department argues that capital punishment, rather than life imprisonment, has led to a 15 to 19 per cent decrease in the chances that a person chooses to transport an amount of weed that carries a capital sentence.

Source: theprovince.com, Staff, July 28, 2022





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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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