Singapore's Death Penalty Change: Life Plus Caning

Al Jazeera has an article today about the "debate" over Singapore's change two weeks ago in its mandatory death penalty law for drugs and murder. The South China Post reports on Asia's shift against the death penalty.

First, Singapore's change in drug cases is de minimus. It applies only to couriers who agree to become snitches and those who with mental abnormalities.

Couriers who rat out bigger fish can apply for a "certificate of cooperation" from the prosecution. Since most couriers don't know anything about the larger organization, this is just a license to make things up. If the authorities suspect person X of being a big trafficker, and ask a courier to confirm their suspicion, what courier is going to admit "I don't know" when that answer means the gallows.

The mental exemption applies only to those "suffering from such an abnormality of mind that it substantially impaired his mental responsibility for committing the offence".

Second, it's not just life in prison if they avoid the death penalty, but life plus caning -- up to 15 lashes. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean: [More..]

"What we are proposing is that where the Public Prosecutor has certified that substantive cooperation has been provided, judges will have the discretion to sentence them (drug traffickers) to life imprisonment with caning.

The law also makes an exception for those convicted of murder who didn't intend to cause death. They can now request life plus caning.

Since November 15, the lawyers for the 34 drug offenders and murderers sentenced to death have been asked to confer with their clients to determine if they want to request life (plus caning.)

How humane is it to impose caning on a mentally disabled person?

Singapore has mandatory caning for a variety of offenses, including immigration offenses like overstaying your visa and graffiti.

You aren't safe if you recently consumed drugs before going to Singapore. According to our State Department,

Singapore police have the authority to compel both residents and non-residents to submit to random drug analysis. They do not distinguish between drugs consumed before or after entering Singapore in applying local laws....Singaporean authorities do impose these sentences on foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens.

Singapore is in the process of introducing new tests, such as hair analysis, to detect drug abuse more effectively.

What a choice: Death by hanging or life in a Singapore prison plus torture. And yet, as Al Jazeera makes clear today, many in Singapore think the Government went too far in its reform efforts.

Over in Indonesia, in Schapelle Corby news, her parole is indefinitely on hold, even though she became eligible in September. Why? Because Indonesia just changed its law and she can neither return to Australia or remain free in Indonesia:

"In the new immigration law a foreign citizen who is undergoing legal process or serving sentences is not able to be given a visa," director for prison training and service Rahmat Prio Sutarjo said.

"If a foreign citizen (does not have a) stay permit, then he or she has to go to (an) immigration detention centre. This is not a parole situation any more because it's still detention."

Another official says:

We have suspended parole requests by foreign prisoners as the new immigration law contradicts a current regulation," senior prisons official Rachmat Priyo Sutardjo told AFP.

Sutardjo explained that the regulation required convicts on parole -- including foreigners -- to "mingle with society" in Indonesia. "But if they have no visa, they will either be placed in a detention centre or they will be deported, so they won't be able to follow the regulation," he said.

Just last week, there was another riot at Bali's Kerobokan prison. Two inmates were found dead in their cells. One had bruises on his body.

Back to Singapore, why people want to visit a country where it is illegal to chew gum in public or jaywalk, and subject themselves to some of the most draconian penalties on the planet is beyond me.

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  • Display: Sort:
    it seems to me that Singapore is a GOP (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by cpinva on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:01:31 AM EST
    paradise. i'm surprised that they all haven't applied for visas to relocate there.

    i haven't bothered doing any actual research, but off the top of my head, i can't think of anything that Singapore produces (aside from bad law), that either can't be acquired elsewhere (we can make our own bad laws), or is particularly needed, so yeah, let them eat gum.

    This entire post is confusing. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Chuck0 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:39:00 PM EST
    Which country's laws are you talking about? Singapore or Indonesia? Both are referenced in the article. They are not the same place.

    Sorry, you are right (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:02:30 PM EST
    it was confusing and I was talking about both places, and they are not the same.

    I think I've fixed it now, let me know if it's still unclear.


    i think you might want to get rid of the graphic, (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:57:14 PM EST
    since it refers to Indonesia, not Singapore. that's a bit confusing.