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WANTED FOR MERCY: SINGAPORE AND ITS MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY

The following is an excerpt of an article posted on blog Give Life A 2nd Chance.

M Ravi in Second Chances in the Park

Published at East Asian Law Journal, Vol. 1 No. 2

By M. Ravi, Practitioner at L.F. Violet Netto, Lawyer for Yong Vui Kong and Alan Shadrake; Co-author Choo Zheng Xi

Overview: harsh substantive law unsupported by criminological statistics

Systematic penalogical data is hard to come by in Singapore, which has led the immediate past president of the Singapore Law Society to lament that “Singapore is sadly lacking a principled and transparent penal Policy because Government has not published detailed statistics of crime and punishment”.[1]  Neither of Singapore’s two universities offering law degrees have a department of criminology in their law faculties.

This statistical lacunae of general criminological data is alarming, but is rendered exponentially more egregious when one considers the most controversial application of the death penalty in Singapore: that trafficking in more than a quantity of drugs prescribed in the Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act is sufficient for a man to hang. The uniquely draconian nature of Singapore’s “Misuse of Drugs Act” deserves some elucidation.

The first aspect of the death penalty for drug trafficking in Singapore is that it attracts not just the possibility of a sentence of death, but the mandatory death penalty.

Secondly, the mandatory nature of the death penalty for trafficking is coupled with a presumption of trafficking in cases of possession.[2] This reverses the basic principle of criminal law that a charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction to follow.

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