For the second time in three weeks, Singapore officials executed a man by hanging for a nonviolent cannabis-related charge in what critics are calling a “killing spree.”
A Malay man in Singapore, 37, whose family asked for him not to be named, was executed at Changi Prison Complex in the eastern part of the city for allegedly trafficking 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of cannabis. That would be considered a commercial delivery in one of the U.S. legal markets.
He was executed despite a last-minute attempt to appeal his case, which was rejected by the court without a hearing. Al Jazeera reports that Singapore officials hanged 11 people last year—all for drug-related charges—after a brief pause of killing during the COVID pandemic.
Just over one pound of pot warrants a death sentence: Under Singapore’s abnormally strict drug laws, trafficking more than 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of cannabis can result in the death penalty. “Drug traffickers are less likely to traffic drugs and reduce the amount of drugs trafficked if they are aware of the penalties involved,” the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) claims, referring to its use of capital punishment by hanging.
Kokila Annamalai of the Transformative Justice Collective said was convicted in 2019 of trafficking about 1.5 kilograms of cannabis.
“If we don’t come together to stop it, we fear that this killing spree will continue in the weeks and months to come,” Annamalai told The Associated Press.
According to the man, authorities lied about the amount of cannabis involved, and that it was actually a smaller amount than they claimed. The man appealed to reopen the case, based on DNA evidence and fingerprints that linked him to a much smaller amount of pot—which he admitted to possessing—but the court rejected it.
Tangaraju Suppiah, 46, was executed at dawn on April 26, rejecting a growing number of anti-death penalty campaigners to end the country’s cruel use of capital punishment.
Tangaraju was originally sentenced to death on October 9, 2018 for attempting to traffic more than 1 kilogram of cannabis to Singapore. He was originally detained in 2014 for drug consumption and failure to report for a drug test.
Tangaraju was also held at Singapore’s Changi Prison Complex.
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, a long opponent of the death penalty, and a group of world leaders called for action for what they describe as a disturbing case of what may be an innocent man.
The hanging took place in a country that canes people for tagging walls with punishments much harsher than you’d see in the U.S.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a Malaysian with learning disabilities, was executed on a drug charge last year, but his case prompted protests, which is a rarity in Singapore. Through the years, Singapore has dealt with “Malayophobia,” another factor that complicates cases such as this.
In a report in March, Harm Reduction International (HRI) found that despite a worldwide shift towards abolishing capital punishment, there were at least 285 executions for drug-related charges last year, more than double the number the year prior.
Singapore isn’t the only country employing medieval punishments for drugs. HRI reminds readers that China, Vietnam, and North Korea also execute people for nonviolent drug charges.