Singapore amends drug death penalty

Featured - July 10th, 2012
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Singapore will amend its strict laws, which often hand out capital punishment to drug traffickers, in a sudden shift of the city-state’s policies. Legal experts are calling the move a “milestone” in Singapore’s legal history, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Drug trafficking is punishable by death in Singapore, usually through hanging. According to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, the amendment will give courts the discretion to use caning for some people convicted of drug-related crimes, if they cooperate with authorities in a “substantive way” or have a mental disability. The new law would apply to low-level drug couriers. Drug distributors and syndicate leaders would still face the mandatory death penalty by hanging.

Along with amendments on drug trafficking laws comes an easing of penalty for homicide, after the Ministry of Home Affair’s year long review on capital punishment. K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs, told the Journal, “Our cardinal objectives remain the same. Crime must be deterred, but justice can be tempered with mercy and, where appropriate, offenders should be given a second chance.” The amendments are subject to approval by Parliament.