Death Penalty Worldwide

Singapore

Last updated on April 4, 2011

General

Official Country Name

Republic of Singapore (Singapore). [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (South-eastern Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. The last executions took place in 2014. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2798.htm, Apr. 1, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau, Execution of convicted drug traffickers, http://www.cnb.gov.sg/newsroom/current/news_details/14-07-18/Execution_of_convicted_drug_traffickers.aspx, Jul. 18, 2014.
[4] Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore, sec. 216, Cap. 68, 1985 Rev. Ed., amended by 51 of 2007.

Country Details

Language(s)

English. [1]

Population

4,990,000. 4,990,000. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

9. As of May 9, 2010, sources did not indicate an estimate of Singapore’s death row population. The number of death row inmates may be low due to speedy executions upon the failure of appeals. [3] At least 9 individuals are currently on death row, although the true figure may be much higher. [4] In 2010 there were 8 death sentences. [5]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on October 24, 2014)

2. [6]

Executions in 2013

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions.

Executions in 2012

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions.

Executions in 2011

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions.

Executions in 2010

At least 1. [10]

Executions in 2009

At least 1. [11]

Executions in 2008

At least 1. [12]

Executions in 2007

At least 2. [13]

Year of Last Known Execution

2014. Two executions were carried out in July 2014 for drug trafficking. [14]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2798.htm, Apr. 1, 2010; Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007. The Ministry of Home Affairs’ report indicates that official court proceedings are in English.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2798.htm, Apr. 1, 2010.
[3] Richard Clark, Arguments For and Against Capital Punishment in the UK, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/thoughts.html, last accessed May 9, 2010; Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Mar. 30, 2010 (indicating that 80 individuals were executed in Singapore in 2003); Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 7, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 8, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[6] Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau, Execution of convicted drug traffickers, http://www.cnb.gov.sg/newsroom/current/news_details/14-07-18/Execution_of_convicted_drug_traffickers.aspx, Jul. 18, 2014.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 26, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[14] Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau, Execution of convicted drug traffickers, http://www.cnb.gov.sg/newsroom/current/news_details/14-07-18/Execution_of_convicted_drug_traffickers.aspx, Jul. 18, 2014.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder. [1]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Each offender in a gang-robbery involving five or more persons is punishable by death if any offender commits a murder in committing the robbery. [2] Perjury or intentional use of false information in a capital case, if the accused is executed, is punishable by death. [3]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Intentional murder by use of explosives or other lethal devices in public, government or infrastructure facilities carries the mandatory death penalty. [4]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Hostage-taking, if harm is threatened, could be punishable by death. [5] Some potentially terrorism-related arms offenses are punishable by death. [6]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Kidnapping is punishable by death if for murder, or putting the victim in danger of murder, or if for ransom, or—when harm is threatened—if for the coercion of third parties. [7]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
Drug trafficking is presumed upon the defendant’s possession of a requisite quantity of drugs. Possession is presumed if the defendant possesses keys to the place or vehicle the drugs were discovered or possesses shipping documentation related to a drug shipment. The burden is on the defendant to overcome the presumption of drug trafficking, for which the death penalty is mandatory. The death penalty is also mandatory for manufacture of illegal drugs. [8]

Economic Crimes Not Resulting in Death.
Arms trafficking is punishable by death. [9]

Treason.
Waging war against Singapore or planning or supporting an offense against the person or sovereignty of the President is punishable by death. [10]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Misconduct in action, assisting the enemy or abandonment of a convoy or vessel by an officer or expert, is punishable by death. Mutiny in the face of the enemy carries the mandatory death penalty. [11]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Genocide involving the killing of any person carries the mandatory death penalty. [12]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
-Piracy endangering life carries the mandatory death penalty. [13]
-Calumny or intentional use of false information in a capital case, if the accused is executed, is punishable by death. [14]
-Attempted murder by a convict under a life sentence is punishable by death. [15]
-Potentially, the violation of a condition on remission of punishment could lead to reinstatement of a death penalty. [16]

Comments.
While drug possession is not a capital crime, the discovery of a requisite quantity of drugs in the defendant’s possession results in a presumption of guilt unless the defendant can prove he is innocent of drug trafficking. Possession is presumed if the defendant possesses keys to the place or vehicle the drugs were discovered or possesses shipping documentation related to a drug shipment. [17] In practice, it is possible that individuals are sentenced to death for mere possession.

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. Singapore's laws maintain the mandatory death penalty for a number of offenses; Singapore's courts have upheld the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking. [18]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Murder. [19]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Intentional murder by use of explosives or other lethal devices in public, government or infrastructure facilities carries the mandatory death penalty. [20]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
Drug trafficking is presumed upon the defendant’s possession of a requisite quantity of drugs. Possession is presumed if the defendant possesses keys to the place or vehicle the drugs were discovered or possesses shipping documentation related to a drug shipment. The burden is on the defendant to overcome the presumption of drug trafficking, for which the death penalty is mandatory. The death penalty is also mandatory for manufacture of illegal drugs. [21]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Mutiny in the face of the enemy carries the mandatory death penalty. [22]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Genocide involving the killing of any person carries the mandatory death penalty. [23]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Piracy endangering life carries the mandatory death penalty. [24]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Murder.
On Dec. 19, 2008, Mohammed Ali Johari was executed for murder. [25]

On Jan. 9, 2009, Tan Chor Jin was executed for murder. [26]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime. [27]

Pregnant Women. [28]
A woman pregnant at the time of sentencing will have any death sentence reduced to a life sentence. [29]

Mentally Ill.
"Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law." Involuntary intoxication or intoxication to the point of insanity also has this result. [30]

References

[1] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XVI, arts. 299-302, Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[2] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XVI, art. 396, Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[3] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XI, arts. 194, 196-200, Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[4] Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act of Singapore, sec. 3(1), Cap. 324A, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[5] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XVI, art. 364(A), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[6] Singapore Internal Security Act, art. 58, No. 18 of 1960, Rev. Ed., 1985
[7] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XVI, arts. 364, 364(A), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008; Kidnapping Act of Singapore, sec. 3, Cap. 151, Ordinance 15 of 1961, amended by 42 of 1999, 1999.
[8] Misuse of Drugs Act of Singapore, secs. 15-33(A), Second Schedule, Cap. 185, 2008 Rev. Ed., amended by S 402/2007, 2007.
[9] Arms Offenses Act of Singapore, sec. 6, Cap. 14, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[10] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. IV, arts. 121, 121(A), 121(B), 121(C), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[11] Armed Forces Act of Singapore, secs., 11, 12, 15, 39, Cap. 295, 2000 Rev. Ed., amended by 28 of 2009, 2009.
[12] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. VI(B), art. 130(E)(a), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[13] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. VI(A), art. 130(B), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[14] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XI, arts. 194, 196-200, Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[15] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XVI, art. 307(2), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[16] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XI(A), art. 227, Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[17] Misuse of Drugs Act of Singapore, secs. 15-33(A), Second Schedule, Cap. 185, 2008 Rev. Ed., amended by S 402/2007, 2007.
[18] Nguyen Tuong Van v. Public Prosecutor, paras. 50, 53, CA 5/2004, Ct. of Appeal, Oct. 20, 2004; Public Prosecutor v. Nguyen Tuong Van, paras. 70, 71, CC 43/2003, High Ct., Mar. 20, 2004; Amnesty Intl., Singapore: 22-Year-Old Yong Vui Kong Due to be Hanged, http://www.amnesty.org.hk/html/node/10553, May 17, 2010.
[19] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. XVI, arts. 299-302, Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[20] Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act of Singapore, sec. 3(1), Cap. 324A, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[21] Misuse of Drugs Act of Singapore, sec. 33, Second Schedule, Cap. 185, 2008 Rev. Ed., amended by S 402/2007, 2007.
[22] Armed Forces Act of Singapore, sec. 15, Cap. 295, 2000 Rev. Ed., amended by 28 of 2009, 2009.
[23] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. VI(B), art. 130(E)(a), Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.
[24] Penal Code of Singapore, ch. VI(A), art. 130(B), 2007.
[25] Richard Clark, Executions in December 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/dec08.html, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[26] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan09.html, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[27] Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore, sec. 213, Cap. 68, 1985 Rev. Ed., amended by 51 of 2007.
[28] Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore, sec. 214, Cap. 68, 1985 Rev. Ed., amended by 51 of 2007.
[29] Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore, sec. 214(2), Cap. 68, 1985 Rev. Ed., amended by 51 of 2007.
[30] Penal Code of Singapore, sec. 84, 85 Cap. 224, 2008 Rev. Ed., 2008.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

No. [1]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [2]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [3]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [4]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [5]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [7]

Vote

Against. [8]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [9]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [10]

Vote

Against. [11]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [12]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [13]

Vote

Against. [14]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [15]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [16]

Vote

Against. [17]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [18]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[7] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[8] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[9] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[10] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[11] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[12] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[13] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[14] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[15] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[16] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[17] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[18] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore provides that due process is required prior to depriving an individual of life, [1] implying the death penalty may be constitutional.

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Singapore’s Constitution does not make reference to international human rights law. [2]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

In important cases challenging the application of the death penalty, Singapore’s courts have upheld the mandatory death penalty for non-violent drug trafficking, [3] preserving the legal status quo. However, while Amnesty International reported 174 executions from 1993 to 2003, [4] significantly fewer executions have been reported in more recent years—4 in the last three years. [5] Among other things, this could reflect a lack of transparency in the reporting of executions, or it could reflect a trend towards fewer executions.

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. [6]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

Yes. [7] One of the most recent highly publicized challenges to a sentence of death involved Van Toung Nguyen, an Australian citizen who received the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking. Nguyen was arrested while passing through Singapore at Singapore’s international airport with heroin and was sentenced to death under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act despite a number of mitigating factors and factors that called into question his criminal responsibility. The Appeals Court upheld the High Court’s conviction and sentence, holding that the mandatory death penalty did not violate Singapore’s Constitution. In reaching its decision, the Appeals Court misstated or failed to address a number of legal concepts and often treated Nguyen’s appeal as an appeal against the death penalty itself, thus failing to provide a coherent legal argument in defense of the actual issue, Singapore’s mandatory death penalty. This case confirms that, presently, no defendant accused of a crime that carries the mandatory death penalty may present mitigating factors or circumstances to receive a reduced sentence. [8] Singaporean courts exercise only limited protection of defendant’s constitutional rights, [9] so as Nguyen illustrates, constitutional challenges to the death penalty may be difficult in Singapore.

In December of 2009 a similar capital defendant, Yong Vui Kong, was granted a stay of execution so that the Court of Appeal could hear his appeal challenging the constitutionality of his mandatory death sentence. [10] The Court of Appeal heard Kong’s appeal against the mandatory death penalty under the Misuse of Drugs Act on March 15, 2010 and rejected his appeal on May 14, 2010. [11]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

The website of the Supreme Court, http://app.supremecourt.gov.sg/default.aspx?pgID=1, could provide access to capital cases in the first instance (High Court division) or on appeal (Court of Appeal). However, access to cases is limited on that site.

The Singapore Academy of Law publishes a daily-updated Singapore Law Watch that tracks key cases and decisions: http://www.singaporelawwatch.sg/remweb/comm/urjfeed/index.jsp.

Finally, if a case name or party is known, opinions may be available by a search of the following website: http://www.singaporelaw.sg.

It may sometimes be necessary to obtain an opinion from an interested party who has retained it. NYU School of Law maintains a website, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Singapore.htm, where a researcher could determine how to obtain any accessible case law.

What is the clemency process?

After an unsuccessful appeal in a capital case, the High Court judge who tried the case and the Chief Justice or presiding judge of the Court of Appeals must send reports to the Attorney General. The Attorney General must then submit those reports with his opinion to the Cabinet so that the Cabinet can advise the President whether to exercise mercy in a case. The president may pardon the offender or commute his sentence, and may also grant reprieve or respite. [12]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. [13]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

The High Court tries capital cases, [14] and the defendant or Public Prosecutor may appeal an acquittal or conviction or sentence or both to the Court of Appeal within 14 days of the High Court’s decision. The Court of Appeal may hear an appeal and consider law, fact from the proceedings below, and additional facts. Or, the Court of Appeal may reject an appeal on the grounds that it raises no questions of law and the High Court’s factual findings were adequately supported by evidence. [15]

References

[1] Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, art. 9(1), 1999 Rev. Ed., amended by 27 of 2008.
[2] Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, 1999 Rev. Ed., amended by 27 of 2008.
[3] Nguyen Tuong Van v. Public Prosecutor, paras. 50, 53, CA 5/2004, Ct. of Appeal, Oct. 20, 2004; Public Prosecutor v. Nguyen Tuong Van, paras. 70, 71, CC 43/2003, High Ct., Mar. 20, 2004; Amnesty Intl., Singapore: 22-Year-Old Yong Vui Kong Due to be Hanged, http://www.amnesty.org.hk/html/node/10553, May 17, 2010.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 7, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[6] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, pp. 1, 4, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[7] Nguyen Tuong Van v. Public Prosecutor, CA 5/2004, Ct. of Appeal, Oct. 20, 2004; Public Prosecutor v. Nguyen Tuong Van, CC 43/2003, High Ct., Mar. 20, 2004.
[8] Nguyen Tuong Van v. Public Prosecutor, paras. 50, 53, CA 5/2004, Ct. of Appeal, Oct. 20, 2004; Public Prosecutor v. Nguyen Tuong Van, paras. 70, 71, CC 43/2003, High Ct., Mar. 20, 2004; U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Statement by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Regarding Singapore, http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=2995&LangID=E, Nov. 17, 2005.
[9] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 9, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[11] The Online Citizen, Singapore’s Court of Appeal Reserves Judgment in Vui Kong’s Appeal Hearing, http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/03/singapore%E2%80%99s-court-of-appeal-reserves-judgment-in-vui-kong%E2%80%99s-appeal-hearing/, Mar. 15, 2010; Andrew Loh, Yong Vui Kong—the Defense’s Argument, The Online Citizen, http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/03/yong-vui-kong-the-defences-argument/, Mar. 28, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Singapore: 22-Year-Old Yong Vui Kong Due to be Hanged, http://www.amnesty.org.hk/html/node/10553, May 17, 2010.
[12] Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, art. 22P, 1999 Rev. Ed., amended by 27 of 2008.
[13] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[14] Supreme Court of Judicature Act of Singapore, sec. 15, Cap. 322, 2007 Rev. Ed., amended by 4 of 2010; Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore, secs. 6-9, Cap. 68, 1985 Rev. Ed., amended by 51 of 2007.
[15] Supreme Court of Judicature Act of Singapore, secs. 44, 45, 52, 55, Cap. 322, 2007 Rev. Ed., amended by 4 of 2010.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Male and female death row prisoners are housed in separate prisons at Singapore’s new Changi Prison Complex. [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

In a report that may be outdated due to the demolition of the old Changi Prison and construction of the new Changi Prison Complex, [2] Amnesty International indicated that death row inmates are kept in strict isolation in cells that are about ten square feet, contain the inmates’ toilets, and lack bedding. Inmates are not generally permitted to go outside for fresh air or exercise, can view television or listen to the radio only on special occasions—such as in proximity to their executions—and have extremely limited visitation rights. [3] Some current information indicates that Singapore’s prisons are generally up to international standards, are filled to slightly below capacity, and have permitted consular access to foreign inmates while prohibiting access by human rights monitors. [4]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. Some statistics indicate that from 25% to 50% of executions in Singapore are of foreign nationals, and this may indicate that foreign nationals compose a significant fraction of inmates on death row. [5] A number of foreign nationals on death row may be poorly educated resident migrant workers. [6] The most current sources indicate that an Australian, Malaysians, Thais, Indonesians and individuals of other nationalities are on death row in Singapore. [7]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

The most current sources indicate that an Australian, Malaysians, Thais, Indonesians and individuals of other nationalities are on death row in Singapore. [8]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

Yes. [9]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

According to the Criminal Procedure Code, an individual under the age of 18 at the time of a capital offense cannot be sentenced to death. [10] Reports do not indicate that, in practice, Singapore deviates from that standard. [11]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

The most current sources indicate that an Australian, Malaysians, Thais, Indonesians and individuals of other nationalities are on death row in Singapore. [12] About a quarter of Singapore’s population consists of resident foreign nationals; a number of foreign nationals on death row may be poorly educated resident migrant workers; and executions of foreigners probably represent a larger fraction than 25%. [13] A Human Rights Council summary of information submitted by an NGO indicates that migrant workers from Indonesia may face the death penalty in Singapore. [14] There could be some de facto discrimination in application of the death penalty.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

The Law Society of Singapore—an independent statutory body charged with providing legal assistance to indigents—is not permitted to provide legal assistance to capital defendants. [15] Instead, the Supreme Court determines whether to appoint two court-chosen attorneys for indigent capital defendants. [16]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

An indigent capital defendant’s two Supreme Court-appointed attorneys remain with him through his final appeal, [17] and possibly through the clemency process. [18]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

Singapore’s attorneys are generally thought to be of reasonably high quality, [19] and top attorneys in Singapore are able to speak out against the mandatory death penalty, [20] although there are reports that a recent book on the death penalty by Alan Shadrake has earned some backlash. In practice, the statutory presumption of guilt and low evidentiary standards for prosecutors for certain capital offenses [21] may undermine the relevance of available, high-quality representation in Singapore.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

While sources indicate that defendants in Singapore generally enjoy the presumption of innocence for some crimes, [22] in practice defendants facing capital drug charges do not enjoy any presumption of innocence. [23] Instead, the Misuse of Drugs act dictates that the court presume a defendant’s drug possession upon a minimal showing of possession, custody or control, dictates that the court presume a defendant in possession of a low requisite quantity of drugs is a drug trafficker, and mandates the death penalty for drug traffickers. At every point, the burden is on the defendant to prove those presumptions incorrect, [24] so capital drug defendants facing the mandatory death penalty are presumed guilty in Singapore. Historically, a significant number of executions in Singapore have been for drug convictions. [25]

References

[1] Singapore Prison Service, Changi Prison Complex, http://www.prisons.gov.sg/changi_prison_complex.html, 2008; Foreign Prisoners Support Service, Prisons in Singapore, http://www.usp.com.au/fpss/prison-singapore.html, 2004.
[2] Singapore Prison Service, Changi Prison Complex, http://www.prisons.gov.sg/changi_prison_complex.htm, 2008; Foreign Prisoners Support Service, Prisons in Singapore, http://www.usp.com.au/fpss/prison-singapore.html, 2004.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 7, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004.
[4] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 7, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004; Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 7, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004; Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007.
[7] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[8] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 9, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 2004; The Star Online, Death For Two Malaysians Caught Trafficking Drugs in Singapore, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/2/5/nation/20100205130343&sec=nation, Feb. 5, 2010.
[10] Criminal Procedure Code of Singapore, sec. 213, Cap. 68, 1985 Rev. Ed., amended by 51 of 2007.
[11] For example, Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, pp. 8-11, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 2004.
[12] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, pp. 8-11, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004; Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 Entitled “Human Rights Council,” p. 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/4/NGO/53, Mar. 6, 2007.
[15] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Legal Profession Act of Singapore, sec. 38(1)(g), Cap. 161, 2009 Rev. Ed., 2009.
[16] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, pp. 15-16, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 2004.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, pp. 15-16, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 2004.
[18] Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007.
[19] Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007; Michael Hor, Singapore’s Innovations to Due Process, pp. 25-40, Criminal Law Forum, Volume 12, no. 1, Springer, 2000. Hor criticizes Singapore’s expansion of the death penalty while discussing the Singaporean common law tradition in the international context.
[20] Jake Lloyd-Smith, Top Singapore Lawyer Slams Death Penalty, Bulletin Wire, http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-139023870/top-singapore-lawyer-slams.html, Nov. 22, 2005.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Misuse of Drugs Act of Singapore, secs. 15-33(A), Second Schedule, Cap. 185, 2008 Rev. Ed., amended by S 402/2007, 2007.
[22] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[23] For instance, Asia Death Penalty, Singapore Activists: Rethink Death Penalty, Asia Death Penalty, http://asiadeathpenalty.blogspot.com/2007/01/singapore-activists-rethink-death.html, Jan. 23, 2007; U.N., Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Rights Expert Calls on Singapore Not to Carry Out Execution, http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=1920&LangID=E, Jan. 25, 2007; U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[24] Misuse of Drugs Act of Singapore, secs.15-33(A), Second Schedule, Cap. 185, 2008 Rev. Ed., amended by S 402/2007, 2007; U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Singapore, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/136008.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[25] Amnesty Intl., Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, p. 6, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 2004; Ministry of Home Affairs, The Singapore Government’s Response to Amnesty International’s Report Singapore: The Death Penalty—A Hidden Toll of Executions, http://www.mha.gov.sg/basic_content.aspx?pageid=74, Jul. 24, 2007.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

A review of the U.N.’s Singapore resource at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/SGIndex.aspx indicated there are no decisions or conclusions of the Human Rights Committee on Singapore, and this will remain unchanged until Singapore joins the ICCPR or Optional Protocol. [1]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

A Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Singapore is pending for 2011. [2]

The UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has critiqued Singapore’s application of the mandatory death penalty as inconsistent with international standards, cruel and unusual and arbitrary because it does not permit the consideration of mitigating factors. In addition, the Special Rapporteur has critiqued inadequacies in legal procedure leading to capital convictions and confirmation of convictions upon appeal. As noted by the Special Rapporteur, Singapore’s replies to these critiques have been unresponsive. [3]

A Human Rights Council summary of information submitted by an NGO indicates that migrant workers from Indonesia may face the death penalty in Singapore. [4]

In January 2007, the Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called for Singapore to halt the execution of a Nigerian national. The individual was sentenced to death for drug trafficking, but many, including the trial judge, accepted that there was no direct evidence the defendant knew that he was carrying heroin. [5]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010; Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4?=en, last accessed May 6, 2010.
[2] Universal Periodic Review, Singapore, http://www.upr-info.org/-Singapore-.html, last accessed Jun. 17, 2010.
[3] U.N. ECOSOC, Commn. On Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, pp. 199-210, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.1, Mar. 27, 2006.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 Entitled “Human Rights Council,” p. 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/4/NGO/53, Mar. 6, 2007.
[5] U.N., Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Rights Expert Calls on Singapore Not to Carry Out Execution, http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=1920&LangID=E, Jan. 25, 2007.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Think Centre
Mr. Sinapan Samydorai
Director
P.O. Box 640 Teban Garden Post Office
916002 Singapore, Singapore
Tel: +65 94 79 19 06
Fax: +65 64 25 07 09
thinkcentre@hotmail.com
www.thinkcentre.org

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

Amnesty Intl., The Death Penalty: A Hidden Toll of Executions, ASA 36/001/2004, Jan. 15, 2004. Note that this 2004 resource may be out of date with respect to certain information it contains.

Additional notes regarding this country

Some commentaries indicated that Singapore’s drug laws in practice target drug mules and not any leadership of drug trafficking rings. This may be an area of interest for research.

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