Singapore executes first woman in nearly 20 years for heroin possession

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Singapore has carried out the execution of a 45-year-old female citizen, Saridewi Binte Djamani, who was found in possession of 31 grams of heroin. This marks the first time in nearly two decades that the city-state has executed a woman for a drug-related offense.

The Central Narcotics Bureau stated that Saridewi Binte Djamani was hanged on Friday following her conviction for trafficking “not less than 30.72 grams” of heroin back in 2018. Throughout the entire process, she had access to legal counsel and was granted full due process under the law.

Despite protests from various human rights groups, including Amnesty International, who argue that Singapore’s use of capital punishment for drug offenses goes against international law and proves ineffective in curbing drug use, the execution was carried out as scheduled.

The Transformative Justice Collective, a local advocacy group, had criticized the authorities for their approach, referring to it as a “bloodthirsty streak” leading up to the execution.

Earlier this year, in response to the high rate of executions for drug offenses in Singapore, a group of United Nations experts called for an immediate moratorium. This request came after allegations that a 46-year-old ethnic Tamil citizen was executed despite being denied proper interpretation during police interrogations.

Singapore’s government, which strictly controls public protests and media, has defended its stance on the death penalty, citing its role as a deterrent against drug trafficking. Surveys have indicated that a majority of citizens support the continuation of such laws.

Since resuming executions in March 2022 after a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has executed 15 individuals, including foreigners, for drug-related offenses. Just last week, on Wednesday, Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, 57, was hanged for trafficking around 50 grams of heroin.

The last time Singapore executed a woman was in 2004 when Yen May Woen, a 36-year-old hairdresser, was hanged for drug trafficking.

Despite being known as a well-organized business hub, Singapore’s stringent laws place it alongside a handful of authoritarian states, such as China and North Korea, where the death penalty is imposed for drug offenses.

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