The capital punishment, or, the death penalty, is traditionally adopted by Singapore since its independence to eradicate drug trafficking and other drug-related offences. Even though the harsh laws have effectively deterred many from trafficking drugs in our region, Singapore’s adoption of death penalty has gained many controversies over the years, not only among its own people, but the foreigners too. Many still did not agree with the inhumane punishment to offenders, with human rights and the effectiveness in crime prevention being questionable.
Before the new bill for the use of death penalty on drug-related offences was passed, the initial law states that the capital punishment was mandatory if the offender was found to be in possession of a significant amount of drugs under the misuse of drugs act. However, on November 2012, a new bill was passed in the Parliament for the first time in history with important amendments made to the death penalties use in drug trafficking cases in Singapore. In the new bill, it states that judges have discretion to impose life imprisonment instead of the mandatory death penalty if the accused is found to be “only a drug courier” or “suffering from such an abnormality of mind that it substantially impaired his mental responsibility for committing the offence.”
In an effort to achieve a more lenient and fairer sentencing, the revised laws allowed the government to reach higher and deeper into the hierarchy of the drug syndicates through drug couriers as they do play an important role in the network. This newly revised drug law offered drug couriers a chance to escape the gallows by substantially assisting the CNB in destabilising organised drug syndicates, disrupting their operations.
In my opinion, with our tough criminal justice systems and harsh laws here in Singapore, it definitely made drug traffickers and syndicates “think twice” before committing an offence, keeping drug situations in Singapore under control.