Eleven executions in small city-state of Singapore in 2022 – all for drug offenses
According to figures released Thursday by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), there were 11 judicial executions in 2022 and none in the previous two years. All had been carried out for drug offenses.
One of the most high-profile cases involved Malaysian Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for introducing 42.72 grams of heroin in a bundle strapped to his thigh the year before. The law provides for the death penalty if the amount of smuggled heroin is more than 15 g. His mother had unsuccessfully tried at the last minute to prevent his execution, scheduled for April 2022.
The total number of executions in 2022 is the second highest in one year since records began in 2007. In 2018, there were 13 judicial executions – 11 for drugs and two for murder – according to the government’s Open Data Portal.
The SPS said no death sentences were carried out from 2020 to 2021, but not because of the Covid 19 pandemic. There are several factors that go into scheduling executions, including whether there are pending court cases involving the offenders, he said.
Some inmates have pending court cases relevant to their death sentences, and others have had some motions filed that affect or could affect them. “Executions are not scheduled until these are resolved,” the SPS said.
In 2022, a last-minute attempt was made to avert the execution of Nazeri Lajim. He was caught in 2012 in possession of no less than 35.41 grams of diamorphine or heroin. That amount was later reduced to 33.39 g when he claimed he wanted to keep some of the drugs for his own consumption.
Three days before his scheduled execution, the 64-year-old filed a request for a judicial determination that the prosecution’s decision to charge him with a felony violated his constitutional rights. The Court of Appeals rejected his request, and Nazeri was hanged on July 22.
The Nagaenthran case attracted international attention, with headlines focusing on the perpetrator’s alleged mental disability. In September 2022, Home and Justice Minister K. Shanmugam stated that there was strong support for the death penalty in the country.
Three studies conducted or commissioned by the Ministry of Interior found that more than seven in ten residents favored the use of the death penalty for the most serious crimes, such as premeditated murder, firearm use, and drug trafficking. And more than eight in 10 residents of the region outside Singapore believe the death penalty discourages such serious crimes in this country.