Delivering a petition to the home affairs ministry, families call for s moratorium on executions and review of the death penalty.
Singapore – Family members of prisoners on Singapore’s death row are calling on the government to bring an immediate moratorium on executions and implement a review of the city state’s use of the death penalty.
Relatives of executed prisoners were among those who delivered a petition to the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday, the eve of World Day Against the Death Penalty. The petition gathered more than 1,700 signatures. At least 16 people have been hanged in the Southeast Asian country since 2022 when executions resumed following a lull during the pandemic.
“It’s high time that the government looks into this matter. They are so stubborn. They are so strict about the death penalty,” said Nazira Lajim Hertslet, the sister of Nazeri bin Lajim who was executed last year. Nazeri was sentenced to death in 2017 after being found guilty of possessing just more than 33 grams (1.1 ounces) of heroin for the purpose of trafficking. He was 64 years old when he was hanged last July.
“He [Nazeri] wanted me to tell the whole world about our Singapore government law which is not fair at all for him,” explains Nazira, who has been a vocal critic of the death penalty since her brother was hanged. “I’m just worried how many more lives they will take away,” Nazria told Al Jazeera. Activists believe there are currently about 50 prisoners on death row in Singapore, with all but three of them jailed for drug-related offences.
Singapore’s use of the death penalty for drug offences made international headlines earlier this year when 46-year-old Tangaraju Suppiah was hanged. He was sentenced to death in 2018 for abetting the attempted trafficking of just more than 1kg (35 ounces) of cannabis. His execution was condemned by the United Nations and British billionaire Richard Branson.
Amnesty International says Singapore was one of only four countries last year where drug-related executions were confirmed. Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs says the use of the death penalty for drug offences is an effective deterrent that keeps Singaporeans “safe from the harmful effects of drugs”. Campaigners disagree, arguing that executing prisoners for drug offences does little to deal with the wider issues feeding the illegal drug trade.