Singapore Executes First Woman in Nearly Two Decades

Singapore has executed 45-year-old Saridewi Djamani for narcotics trafficking, making her the first woman to be put to death in the country in nearly two decades. According to the Central Narcotics Bureau, the execution took place on Friday, marking a significant development in Singapore’s stance on drug-related crimes.

The road to Saridewi’s execution was fraught with pleas from international human rights organizations, including the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Amnesty International, and the International Federation for Human Rights, who fervently urged the Singaporean government to halt the execution. Despite these appeals, the high court stood firm in its decision, rejecting Saridewi’s claim that her statements to the police were compromised due to drug withdrawal. The court maintained that her withdrawal symptoms were mild to moderate, and thus, she was capable of providing accurate statements.

This week, Singapore saw the second person put to death, with Saridewi being the fifteenth individual executed since March 2022, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Amnesty International has been quick to respond, calling for intensified pressure on Singapore to reform its stringent drug control policies, which include the imposition of the death penalty for narcotics offenses.

Singapore’s government, however, remains steadfast in its position, asserting that the death penalty acts as a powerful deterrent against drug-related crimes and that its judicial processes are fair and impartial. Despite this stance, opponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty is not a uniquely effective deterrent and tends to disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalized individuals within society.

Reports indicate that some detainees, like Saridewi, face difficulties in obtaining legal representation and end up representing themselves in appeals. This raises concerns about the fairness of the judicial process and access to adequate legal counsel for those facing severe charges.

The recent executions in Singapore have drawn sharp criticism from human rights experts, who contend that the punishment is in violation of international human rights law due to its disproportionate nature.