Singapore athletes arrive for Glasgow 2014 as double execution scheduled

Glasgow welcomed team Singapore to the Commonwealth Games on Sunday as news of a reprehensible u-turn on the death penalty by the island nation reached Amnesty.

Singapore carried out a double execution on Friday (18 July), the first two prisoners to be put to death since 2011, according to Amnesty International researchers and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN).

Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, were executed at Singapore’s Changi Prison Complex. They had been convicted and mandatorily sentenced to death for drug-related offences in January and April 2011 respectively under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Siobhan Reardon, Amnesty International Scotland Programme Director, said:

“Singapore's human rights record has taken a massive leap backwards. By executing Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng, the authorities have disregarded the moratorium on the death penalty after a clean record of no executions for the last two years.

“These hangings took place despite an appeal to challenge the validity of section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which could have ultimately spared the lives of prisoners on death row who have been mandatorily sentenced under this law.

“It is extremely disappointing that, as we welcome Team Singapore to Glasgow 2014, one of the positive human rights stories we have shared is now no longer true.”

Background

Non-lethal crimes such as drugs offences do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty may be imposed under international law.

On 14 November 2012, Singapore’s Parliament adopted amendments to abolish the mandatory imposition of the death penalty under certain circumstances in murder and drug trafficking cases. At least nine people had their death sentences reviewed and eventually commuted to life imprisonment and caning since the laws were amended.

The Singapore government said that the two men executed waived their right to a review of their mandatory death sentence, which they were entitled to after legislation was amended.

At least 26 people remained on death row in Singapore at the end of 2013.

With Friday's resumption of executions, Singapore is setting itself against the global trend ending the use of the capital punishment, more than two-thirds of all countries having abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

In the Asia-Pacific region, 17 out of 41 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 are abolitionist in practice and one – Fiji – uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes.

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