Singapore retains harsh death penalty policy

Death Row Inmateoriginally by: LA Times
published: 9 July 2012

After a yearlong review, Singapore officials announced in Parliament on Monday that mandatory death sentences in a dozen categories of serious offenses will be retained because they have broad public support and have proved effective in deterring crime.

The review, which kept executions on hold for more than a year, did result in authorities allowing courts discretion to issue life sentences instead of death in some cases involving minor drug dealers who provide substantial assistance to the Central Narcotics Bureau.

Singapore has been criticized by anti-death-penalty groups as having the highest per capita execution rate in the world in the few years when the city-state has released information about its exercise of capital punishment. Officials reported in 2004 that 138 people had been executed over the previous five years, in a population of 5.3 million.

As part of the parliamentary discussion of the death penalty review and minor legal amendments, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean reported that 35 prisoners are on death row, 28 of them for drug offenses and seven for murder.

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