Singapore hanged a man on Wednesday for smuggling less than 3.5 pounds of marijuana, its second execution in three weeks for a crime that carries a much lighter sentence in much of the rest of the world.
“The death penalty is part of Singapore’s comprehensive harm prevention strategy that targets both the demand and supply of drugs,” the country’s Central Narcotics Agency said in a press release. statement confirms the execution. It gave the man’s age, 36, but did not identify him by name, as requested by his family, or detail his crimes.
But court documents show Muhammad Faizal Bin Mohd Shariff had been convicted and sentenced to death in 2019 for possessing about 1.6 kilograms, or 3.4 pounds, of cannabis. Last month, Singapore hanged a man convicted of conspiring to traffic two pounds of cannabis.
Human rights groups condemned both sentences as grossly excessive, but Singapore has long taken a tough stance on drugs and shown little flexibility.
Since 1975, the country has prescribed the death penalty for people convicted of drug trafficking. In most cases, the death penalty is given for trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis, 250 grams of methamphetamine, 30 grams of cocaine or 15 grams of heroin, according to Bureau.
Most of those sentenced to death in Singapore are linked to drug crimes. Of 54 people awaiting execution in Singapore, 51 are for drug-related crimes, said Kirsten Han, a spokeswoman for the Transformative Justice Collective, which has campaigned to abolish the death penalty in Singapore. The remaining three are for murder.
Last year, Singapore executed 11 people for drug-related offences. Only five other countries did so, Han said: China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
Before his conviction, Faizal claimed in court that he had intended to consume most of the cannabis himself, intending to sell a small portion. On Monday, he appealed to have his sentence reduced to life in prison, but an appeals court denied it the next day. He was hanged 21 days after Singapore was executed Tangaraju Suppiah for a similar crime.
While Southeast Asia used to be known for its harsh punishments for drug crimes, in recent years countries in the region have softened their stances. Malaysia has ended its mandatory death penalty for drug offences. Thailand has legalized marijuana.
Death sentences linked to drug offenses in Singapore have led to protests by human rights groups. Year 2021, urged protesters the country to stop the execution of a man convicted of smuggling heroin, arguing that he should be spared because he had a mental disability. He was executed in April 2022.
Opponents of Singapore’s drug policy also say it has disproportionately harmed marginalized ethnic minorities. “It is very worrying that 64.9 percent of those on death row are of Malay ethnicity,” when Malays make up only 14 percent of Singapore’s population, wrote M. Ravian international human rights lawyer who had represented Faizal.
The argument to abolish the death penalty for drug offenses has not gained much traction in Singapore.
“The public is still largely in favor of the death penalty,” Han said, adding that the opposition is reluctant to touch on the issue. “It’s too much of a hot potato for them.”