The Hangman’s Knot For Drug Crime. Singapore's Death Penalty in a Modern Society

Is it a Violation of the International Human Rights Standards?

Magisterarbeit, 2014
76 Seiten


Table of Contents






Introductory Chapter
Chapters Defined

Chapter One: The Justification of Deterrence
Retentionist States Rationalisation for Capital Punishment
Legitimate Way to Kill
Theory of Deterrence
Moral Justification
Utilitarian Approach
Crime Statistics
Prison Conviction Statistics
Malaysia and Capital Punishment
Viet Nam and Capital Punishment

Chapter Two: Mandatory Death Sentence for Drug Crimes
Genesis of Capital Punishment
Background to the Singapore Drug Trade
Policy on drugs prior to World War II
Legislation on Drugs from 1946 to 1972
Independent Singapore State
Drug Legislation Entailing the Mandatory Death Penalty
Mandatory Death Penalty Introduced for Trafficking Drugs
Mandatory Nature of the Sentence
International Bird’s Eye on the Mandatory Death Penalty
The role of the Judiciary
Mandatory Criteria Nixed for the First time
Capital Punishment restricted to ‘Most Serious Crime’
Crimes falling within the threshold of ‘Most Serious Crimes’

Chapter 3: Due Process
Brief History of the Legal System of Singapore
International Position on Due Process Protection
Due process regarding 1973 Misuse of Drugs Act
Freedom of Speech Singapore’s Politics on Capital Punishment
Government and Judiciary Violation to the Right to freedom of Speech surrounding
Capital Punishment

Chapter 4: International Human Rights
International Treaties
Council of Europe and the death Penalty
Europe a Death Penalty Free Zone
Capital Punishment’s Long Fight towards Abolition
Principal International Treaties to Capital Punishment
Singapore and Human Rights Treaties

Concluding Recommendations



Candidate Name (please print): Jacintha Maria Victor John

I certify that the dissertation entitled: The Hangman’s Knot For Drug Crime:

Singapore's Death Penalty In A Modern Society: Is It a Violation of the International Human Rights Standards? submitted for the degree of: LLM in International Law / Human Rights Law is the result of my own work and that where reference is made to the work of others, due acknowledgment is given.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


The author is primary indebted to her supervisor Susan Power for her invaluable expertise, guidance, knowledge, patience, understanding and wisdom at each stage through this lengthy and daunting process that results in a final thesis in addition to her utmost generosity for going out of her way in making herself available to the author throughout this process.

Many thanks, to all the lecturers and staff of Griffith College Law Faculty for their assistance throughout this course and wonderful assistance and understanding.

The Library staffs at Griffith College Dublin, for their assistance and expertise in acquiring relevant material for the thesis and the author is especially grateful to the head librarian Rob McKenna for going out of his way to accommodate the author’s requests.


To my mother and father located miles away.

To my partner Sean O’Gormlaith for his support and motivation.

And lastly, to Niamh Gormley for her time patience and support in reviewing the authors work.


Western abhorrence of the death penalty is not something novel. Although the death penalty as a punishment was applied by all countries until recent years, during the nineteenth and early twentieth century it was abolished in a number of states.

Amnesty International, has described Singapore as the world’s hanging capital. Singapore an authoritarian state practices capital punishment and has the highest execution per capita. Singapore issues the mandatory death penalty predominantly for the offence of drug trafficking among others. By imposing the mandatory death penalty, discretion is taken away from the judiciary. Discretionary powers taken away from judges, precludes them from looking into the extenuating and particular circumstances of the individual cases. For these reasons, there is a need to examine legislation prescribing such a sanction which automatically takes away an individual’s life. Notably, one may wonder whether such a draconian punishment in a contemporary society violates the fundamental right of an individual.

The primary reason for the imposition of the mandatory death penalty is deterrence and incapacitation. Retentionist states assert the much famous deterrence argument to justify capital punishment. One would question, whether this is a heinous crime to render such a draconian punishment. Does it violate human rights standards? Does this barbaric punishment deter crimes? Is the deterrence argument substantial enough to take away human life?

Due to all these factors, this thesis will critically evaluate the deterrence argument pronounced by most retentionist states in order to analyse whether such a justification in reality deters crime. Next, a critical evaluation of the legislation prescribing such a harsh sanction will be analysed. Finally, drawing from human rights standards, this research will examine the reasons behind the trend towards capital punishment. This research will give new light to the issue of capital punishment as to whether capital punishment is an effective sanction in the legal system. The ultimate aim of this research is to evaluate whether capital punishment for drug crimes is a legitimate sanction advocated by retentionist states.


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Introductory Chapter

The area of International Law which this thesis will evaluate is the death penalty. The death penalty is a major issue within the International Human Rights organization. The death penalty is a draconian sentence which should not be carried out in all society, but due to the different views of government around the world some countries still practice this penalty. It is a serious punishment which most countries around the world have abolished or do not practice.The aim of this research is to evaluate and analyse whether by implementing harsh penalties such as capital punishment, do retentionist states such as Singapore violate International Human Rights standards and whether capital punishment for drug crimes is a legitimate sanction advocated by retentionist states.


The research method chosen to carry out this study is a comparative methodology. This would involve the process of comparing the International Human Rights Treaties with Singapore’s Constitution and legislation which governs the death penalty. Notably, the deterrence argument will be compared with crime statistic to gather substantial crime figures to either discount the argument or enhance it further. This will give light as to whether capital punishment deters criminals. In addition, the research will highlight circumstances which warrant the death penalty in Singapore and whether there is any situation in the international treaties which allows for the death penalty to be practiced. A comparative analysis will be conducted on the scope of the legislation which governs the death penalty in Singapore and the International Human Rights Treaties. This will give light to the International Human Rights Treaties governing the death penalty and to what extent, (if any) is it in breach of human rights standards?

Chapters Defined

Chapter one of this thesis will firstly evaluate the famous deterrence argument pronounced by majority of the retentionist states like Singapore. In order to accomplish this, the chapter will start off with the discussion and analysis of legal theories surrounding the deterrence justification. This section will evaluate whether the deterrence argument pronounced by retentionist states is still relevant in theory in contemporary society to reduce criminality. Following this, a critical examination of official crime rate statistics reflecting drug convictions in the Singapore prison population will be analysed. This is of crucial importance to this research, as it will critically indicate whether the deterrence justification has realistically worked in Singapore to deter drug crimes, which will be reflected in the number of drug convictions. Finally the legal frameworks will be analysed.

Chapter two of the thesis will begin by introducing the origins of capital punishment leading to a brief history and background of Singapore’s drug problem in order to understand the mandatory death penalty prescribed by Singapore. Next this chapter will analyse the interpretation of the Misuse of Drugs Act in the Privy Council in order to evaluate the process of the legality of the mandatory death sentence. Following this, a comparative example from the Indian jurisdiction will be analysed. Accordingly, the international position on the mandatory death sentence will be discussed.

Chapter three of the thesis will evaluate the protection of due process afforded to individuals facing capital punishment, this chapter will discuss briefly Singapore’s legal system leading to the discussion of freedom of speech and expression surrounding capital punishment in Singapore in order to highlight whether Singapore is in a position to accept criticism surrounding the death penalty. Subsequently arguments surrounding the protection of due process in relation to the mandatory death penalty will be analysed and the international position on the protection will be highlighted.

Chapter four of this thesis will evaluate capital punishment in the International Community. Firstly, this Chapter will examine the various international treaties, covenants and declaration surrounding capital punishment. Secondly, capital punishment within the Council of Europe will be discussed in order to establish the position of the death penalty in Europe. Thirdly the principle treaties specifically governing capital punishment will be addressed. Finally, the abolition movement surrounding capital punishment will be discussed.

Chapter One: The Justification of Deterrence


In order engage in the dialogue of whether the deterrent argument is an effective justification for drug crimes, this chapter will examine the legal theory on the justification of deterrence and its relevance to capital punishment as a deterrent to crime. Firstly, the different philosophical theories will be critically analysed. The section will evaluate whether the deterrence argument pronounced by retentionist states is still relevant in theory in contemporary society to reduce criminality.

Secondly, a critical examination of official crime rate statistics reflecting drug convictions in the Singapore prison population will be analysed. The analysis of the statistical evidence extrapolated from the Singapore prison publications would indicate, whether the number of drug convictions in Singapore have increased, decreased or remained stagnant. This is of crucial importance to this research, as it will indicate whether the deterrence justification has realistically worked in Singapore to deter drug crimes. Finally, the legal frameworks will be analysed. The findings of this chapter will be of significance to overall thesis in order to evaluate whether the deterrence argument is a practical justification for drug offences.

Retentionist States Rationalisation for Capital Punishment

Generally, the justification for the death penalty is rooted in the deterrence argument. Unsurprisingly, retentionist countries argue that it deters criminals from committing offences for which capital punishment is prescribed. Singapore is an advocate of the deterrence, and the government strongly asserts that this is the rationale behind capital punishment for drug offences.1 The crucial question is whether this justification is effective in the fight against drug crimes.

The international community is moving towards the total abolition of capital punishment. Worryingly there has been an increase in the number of countries imposing the death penalty for drug offences which clearly contradicts the objective espoused by the international community.2 Disturbingly, there has been further increase in relation to the death penalty being imposed to a variety of drug-related offences3 within these retentionist states.

It is common amongst retentionist countries to impose capital punishment in domestic legislation for cultivation, drug trafficking, manufacturing, importing or exporting of drugs.4 This list is certainly not exhaustive; drug crimes entailing capital punishment are varied and extensive. As will be argued in chapter 4, the UN Human Rights Community has persistently expressed restrictions to the number and types of offences where the death penalty may be legitimately imposed. Contrary to this, a large number of retentionist countries continue to prescribe the death penalty in drug control legislation.

Aoyagi asserts, that disciplinary “prohibitionist policies towards drugs are frequently justified on both moral and utilitarian grounds”.5 Accordingly, utilitarian and moral rationales are the most prominent feature amongst advocates, in relation to the justification of capital punishment for drug offences.6 In a modern and educated society, the use of illicit drugs is known to have potentially harmful effects for individuals who use it but this does not mean that all individuals who consume a quantity of illicit drugs will die from the experience.

In relation to individuals who are presumed to traffic illicit drugs, they too, do not directly cause harm or death to an individual. Therefore, a situation whereby a deadly outcome would arise owing to individual possession of drugs or sale of narcotics cannot be said to exist. How than do governments of retentionist countries justify capital punishment for drug offences? Clearly, the crime is not proportionate to the punishment. Accordingly, Lines asserts that the ‘traditional eye-for-an-eye retributive’ principle, widespread amongst capital punishment advocates does ‘not fit neatly’ in the framework of drug offences.7 Despite this, retentionist countries such as Singapore, vehemently justify this punishment. On this basis, retentionist states arguably legitimately prescribe the death penalty for drug offences.

Legitimate Way to Kill

Capital punishment has always been the ultimate punishment for the offence of murder. It might seem logical to prescribe the harsh irreversible punishment for murder as society in general would not accept, not to punish an individual who decides to kill any human being. Alternatively Van den Haag asserts:

I think that the only purpose for the death penalty, as I see it, is vengeance-pure and simple vengeance. But I think vengeance is a very personal feeling and I don’t think it is something that civilized government should engage in.8

Society, through law makers has always used punishment to discourage individuals from committing crimes. Capital punishment is practiced for heinous crimes in order to deter individuals from the crime of murder, as society has the highest interest in preventing such a heinous offence.9 As Professor Van den Haag states ‘execution of those who committed heinous murders may deter only one murder per year. If it does, it seems quite warranted. It is also the only fitting retribution for murder I can think of’.10 This statement may be legitimate for the crime of murder but is it a legitimate punishment for drug offences where no life is lost?

The logic behind the deterrence justification is that when an individual is threatened with death, this will naturally provoke more fear leading to greater deterrent than to be threatened with life imprisonment.11 Countries such as China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, nations in the Middle East and some in Africa are great advocates of the deterrent argument to support capital punishment.12 Singapore asserts that the rationale behind capital punishment for drug offences is to deter individuals from committing such crimes and further decreasing any drug organisation from setting up within the city state.13 Contrary, opposition member of the Singapore Democratic Party Dr Chee Soon Juan, critically scrutinised the Singapore government’s policy on the death penalty stating, ‘I want to force the logic of the Governments argument through and show how ridiculous it is when we take a closer look. Both factors of deterrence and retribution put forward by the state simply fall apart when scrutinised’.14

Despite the criticism within Singapore state, the government further justifies the brutal executions for the preservation of law and order.15

However, retentionist countries rationale such as Singapore’s is less than succinct and the following sections will address three issues, firstly the theory of deterrence, secondly the moral justification and finally the utilitarian approach in assessing why the response of the Singapore government is inadequate in addressing drug crimes. The crucial question here is whether the deterrent justification for capital punishment is actually an effective deterrent for drug offences in a contemporary society.

Theory of Deterrence

Classical legal theory focuses on the criminal act or the crime. Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham are the two great pioneers for the philosophical advancement of the death penalty. Bentham’s school of thought was concerned with ‘abolishing injustices’ and the ‘vindictiveness’ of punishment.16 He believed, that the purpose of punishment was ‘exclusively deterrent’ and paid little attention to the ‘individuality’ of the offender.17

The theory of deterrence surrounds the main notion, that the ‘severity of the punishment must prevail’ over the ‘pleasures or benefits’ that the individual committing the offence gains from the crime committed.18 In addition, the punishment has to be prescribed quickly in order for ‘potential criminals’ to be aware of an ‘unambiguous cause and effect relationship between the punishment and the crime’.19 Therefore, the logic behind the theory is to punish the convicted criminal as soon as possible in order to deter future criminals committing crimes. The potential criminals will be deterred, as they will relate to the fact that by committing such a crime there would be set repercussions for their actions.

There are two forms of deterrence, firstly general deterrence which is when ‘punishment deters prospective criminals’ from committing crimes.20 In relation to capital punishment, general deterrence reflects the underlying principle, that is, predominantly the effects of the threat of being punished with the death penalty.21 The next from of deterrence is specific deterrence, which refers to the ‘inability’ of the convicted individual to further commit crimes solely due to the repercussions of the punishment prescribed.22 Here, the result of receiving the death penalty is the underlying principle of specific deterrence. Capital punishment falls within the scope of specific deterrence where the executed criminal will never be able to commit an offence again. This being said, it must be noted that experts and commentators have long debated whether capital punishment is a more effective general deterrent than life in prison.23 This is because, potential criminals may desist in committing an offence entailing a sanction of the death penalty due to the threat of execution he may encounter.24

Deterrent theories observe the ‘prevention of further offences through a deterrent strategy as the basis for punishing’.25 The government of Singapore deliberately imposed capital punishment after due consideration in Parliament for the purposes of deterrence.26 Bentham asserts that without sufficient ‘deterrent (pain) a person in a given situation would act in a criminal manner’.27 Bentham’s justifications are based on the ‘principles of utility’,28 which is the ‘(pleasure/pain theory of human behaviour)’29 in order to justify state sanctions of individual behaviour.30 In addition the ‘(pleasure/pain theory)’ is used to further describe how these sanctions may have the best possible outcome of an individual’s behaviour.31 As an ‘exercise of state power, sentencing can be justified only by its consequences’.32 Therefore, in order to deter others it may be permissible to punish one person harshly.33

Contextually, it seems logical for capital punishment to be imposed in order to deter criminals. However, this strongly depends on compelling empirical evidence of the effect of deterrence sentencing on individual behaviour which to date Singapore has not provided consistently.34 Conversely, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen a Victorian judge, does not share the same opinion in relation to the idea that statistics are needed in order to prove that the deterrence justification works. He states, ‘the plain truth is that statistics are no guide at all...the question as to the effect of capital punishment on crime must always be referred, not to statistics, but to the general principles of human nature’.35

There is a modest amount of modern literature on individual deterrence, which denotes the deterrence of further offences by a particular offender as the measure of punishment.36 Most of the literature on deterrence is based on capital punishment for murder.37 The underlining conclusion resulting from these literatures is that ‘the presence of the death penalty in law and practice has no discernible effect as a deterrent to murder’.38

In terms of sentencing effects capital punishment does not deter criminality. In 2000, a survey was conducted by the New York Times which concluded that during the past 20 years the homicide rates in retentionist states has encountered an erratic upwards shift from 48% to 101% in states that have abolished capital punishment.39 In addition, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation data established that 10 out of the 12 abolitionist states have homicide rates below the national average figures.40 Not surprisingly the survey conducted established that homicide rates had increased and decreased along approximately ‘symmetrical paths’41 in retentionist states and abolitionist states, suggesting that the threat of capital punishment rarely deters criminals. Steven Messner, the jurist who reviewed the studies stated, ‘whatever the factors are that affect change in homicide rates, they don’t seem to operate differently based on the presence or absence of the death penalty in a state’.42 The survey indicates that capital punishment does not seem to indicate a deterrent effect to homicide, therefore by extension, the death penalty for a less heinous drug crime will not deter criminality.

One could hypothesise that murderers do not give the victim they kill a choice but in relation to the victims of drug peddlers they are certainly under no such threat. Drug offenders do not hold a gun point blank to the head of an individual in order to compel the so called victim to consume the drug. The victim on his own free will purchases and consumes the drugs without any influence from the drug trafficker. The victim is acting at their own free will. Therefore it is somewhat troubling that retentionist states justify capital punishment for drug offences, a crime clearly not as heinous as murder.

General deterrence research analysis conducted concluded that there is ‘some evidence of a link between the certainty of punishment and crime rates but considerable weaker evidence of a link between the severity of sentences and crime rates’.43 This is difficult to reconcile with the rationale behind capital punishment for drug offences by retentionist governments, as one could conclude from the deterrence analysis that there would not be a considerable reduction in drug crimes. It must be noted here that due to the moral implications to conduct random experiments in relation to the use of capital punishment, it is difficult and near close to impossible, to collect empirical data in relation to the deterrent effects of the threat of capital punishment in order to convince an advocate of the death penalty to change their views on it.44

Moral Justification

In order to legitimately prescribe capital punishment for drug offences, retentionist states argue that there is a moral basis for the policy. This involves the presumption that the use of illicit drugs is fundamentally wrong and it is ‘evidence of moral inadequacy’ and therefore must be severely penalised.45 According to the moral perspective, the reasoning behind prescribing capital punishment for drug offences is founded on the pronouncements that the ‘social evil caused by drug trafficking’46 and the ‘global menace’ of the drug trade is a sufficient justification for such a draconian punishment.47 Troublingly, advocates of capital punishment for drug offences do not accuse individuals involved in the illicit drug trade of being guilty of ‘individual, identifiable homicides’,48 but to a certain extent as being ‘merchants of death,’49 ‘engineers of evil’50 or ‘peddlers of death’.51 Furthermore, crimes committed in the illicit drug trade are labelled as crimes inflicting ‘serious harm to the nation’.52 Therefore, unlike the rational for the justification of capital punishment for murders which is an eye for an eye and a life for a life, capital punishment for drug offenders has a different moral rationale, whereby drug offenders reflect an image of greater danger and hindrance to society. Consequently, capital punishment is justified to avoid harm to the nation and its citizens.

The Malaysian Prime Minister argues that the death penalty is the “right kind of punishment” given the ‘menace that drugs pose to society’.53 This statement reflects the mindset of most retentionist governments in relation to capital punishment for drug offences. This argument taken to its conclusion results in absurdity. If retentionist countries consider drugs to be a danger to society due to its harmful effects on the individual and society, than what about the manufacturers and distributors of cigarettes? It is scientifically proven and well known to society that cigarette smoking causes cancer the number one killer in the world.54 In addition, it is a scientific fact that nicotine and tobacco which is found in cigarettes are addictive.55 Therefore, should retentionist countries execute cigarette manufacturers and distributors as the harm is equivalent to those who consume illicit drugs? Drug traffickers do not directly harm the so called victim therefore arguably, retentionist states should move towards reforming the law relating to capital punishment for drug offences to fight the war on drugs, in a more effective way than execution.


According to the analysis above, the theory of deterrence seems to reflect doubts in relation to drug crimes. Unfortunately, the justification of deterrence in relation to drug offences has not gained currency among commentators, advocates and the international community. As Pataki has highlighted above, the fact that capital punishment exists in law and practice is proven not to deter murders.56 Subsequently, if capital punishment as deterrence is not an effective measure to murder which constitutes a heinous crime in society, it would be erroneous for retentionist states to assert that capital punishment is an effective deterrence for drug crime. General research on deterrence concluded that there is weak evidence that the severity of sentences affects crime rates.57

Utilitarian Approach

The utilitarian approach justifies penal policies on the basis of efficacy.58 The utilitarian approach finds that severe punishment will be utmost effective in deterring the malicious use of drugs, mitigating their ‘negative societal consequences’.59 Therefore, under the utilitarian view, capital punishment is justified because of the pronounced deterrent effect on drug traffickers and drug use advanced by countries located on key drug ‘transhipment routes’.60 Singapore is a gateway to Asia with a busy trading port and transhipment routes to surrounding Asian countries. Unsurprisingly, the Singapore government expresses the same sentiments in relation to the high possibility of drug traffickers using Singapore as a gateway to smuggle drugs across Asia,61 therefore requiring the government to legislate harsh penalties such as the mandatory death penalty.62 Singapore authorities state that ‘tough anti-drug laws have worked well in Singapore’s context to deter and punish drug traffickers’ and are necessary ‘to help us keep our country drug-free’.63

According to classical jurist Beccaria, there are two grounds of justification where death of a citizen may be indispensable. Firstly, it has to be obvious that even after deprivation of his freedom he retains connection and power to jeopardize the security of the nation when his ‘existence may threaten a dangerous revolution in the established form of government’.64 Secondly, the death of a citizen is just and necessary where it is the only measure to deter others from committing crimes.65

On the first of these grounds, the threat of drug trafficking in Singapore must be such to threaten the institutions of states and therefore requires excessive deterrent measures. In order to test this hypothesis, the following section will analyse drug crime statistics to determine whether drug crimes in Singapore pose a threat to the institutions. In addition, statistics from the prison convictions will be evaluated to assess whether the mandatory death penalty as an excessive deterrent measure in fact deters criminals.

Crime Statistics

Unfortunately, regular publications of crime statistics of executions have been suppressed by the government of Singapore since the 1980’s, making it next to impossible to test the effectiveness of the death penalty.66 Consequently, this section will analyse crime rate and drug crime statistics in Singapore.

Interestingly, according to government statistics the overall crime rate has witnessed an erratic upwards and downwards shifts in the last decade.67 The figures recorded an average crime rate of 750 per 100,000 of the population in 2000, dipping to 600 per 100,000 of the population in 2001, this sharply escalated to an alarming 900 per 100,000 of the population in 2005 and has since steadily reduced to 650 per 100,000 of the population in 2010.68 Notably crime statistics from the Singapore government Central Narcotics Bureau illustrates that unlike the decline in criminality in the general crime statistics, the number of drug abuser arrests has stabilised since 2007.69 In 2010, the number of arrests of inhalant abusers was recorded at 339, a 15% decrease on the 2009 figure of 398.70

Critically, the Central Narcotics Bureau cites ‘increased, intensive enforcement, in particular at Singapore’s checkpoints’ for the reduction and levelling of the drugs rate as opposed to any meaningful death penalty deterrent arguments.71 The utilitarian rationale is debatable and has no substantial grounds for a valid stance in relation to the death penalty deterrent for drug offences.

The figures highlighted above certainly supports assertions advocated by Professor Hood an expert on the death penalty who has highlighted that despite the continuous repeated claims by retentionist countries of the effectiveness that deterrence has on drug offence, there is no statistical data to support this line of reasoning.72 Consequently, the figures on drug crime in Singapore do not appear to threaten the states institutions to such an extent to necessitate the mandatory death penalty for drug offences.

Prison Conviction Statistics

This section will analyse criminal conviction statistics extrapolated from Singapore prison in order to evaluate whether capital punishment deters drug crimes. According to the Singapore Prison report, the total convicted penal population in 2008 was 10,626 individuals73 compromising 5136 for drug offences.74 In 2009, there was an increase to the total population of 11,288 individuals75 with further increase to drug offences to 6016 individuals.76 In 2010, the total population decreased to 11,15477 but the number for drug offences continued to increase to 6230 individuals78 convicted for drug offences.

In relation to the remand population, the total population in 2008 was 80779 of which 36680 were for drug offences. In 2009, the total population reflected 81281 individuals but only 31082 individuals for drug offences indicating a decrease. In 2010, the total population radically increased to 99383 and the total individuals for drug offences escalated to 369.84 Lastly, the prison report states the total number of convicted penal admissions population amounts to 17,40485 of which 2,04386 are for drug offences. There was a slight decrease in the total population in 2009 of 17,33087 individuals but once again an increase for drug offences which was 223588 individuals. In 2010 there was further reduction in the total population to 15,69189 individuals but an alarming increase of 3933 individuals for drug offences.90

From the figures extrapolated from the Singapore prison report, there clearly is no significant pattern of a decrease of individuals for drug offences. Worryingly, the figures reflect an increase in the number of individuals convicted for drug offences and further undermines the deterrence argument advanced by Singapore, as there has been no substantial reduction for drug offences. If the mandatory death penalty for drug offences is meant to deter criminals from committing such crimes, the figures ought to reflect the decrease of individuals for drug offences, which is clearly not the case. Therefore it creates doubts on the legitimacy of the mandatory death penalty for drug offences and the deterrent effect.

Malaysia and Capital Punishment

Malaysia is another retentionist state which persistently advocates the deterrent justification for capital punishment. Similar to Singapore, Malaysia practices the mandatory death penalty for drug offences and murder. According to Amnesty International, in 2010 one execution was carried and 114 death sentences were imposed in Malaysia.91 Worryingly, approximately half of the sentences were imposed for drug crimes and the remaining death sentences were imposed for the crime of murder.92

In 1991, an examination of the use of the mandatory death penalty was conducted for drug crimes which gave an astonishing result. Data gathered ‘shows that Malaysia’s solution to the drug problem is not effective’93 either. The report revealed that although Malaysia introduced the death penalty for drug offences in 1975, the data on drug use in Malaysia ‘has one of the world’s highest per capita populations of drug addicts and users’.94 This was subsequently denied by the Malaysian government although the ‘data is supported by Malaysia’s official statistics’.95 This clearly indicates, that the deterrence justification put forward by retentionist states in reality is not a solution which is currently working for the war on drugs. During a parliamentary debate on drug policy a member of the Malaysia’s government stated that ‘the mandatory death sentence...has not been effective in curtailing drug trafficking,96 clearly indicating flaws in the deterrence argument.

Viet Nam and Capital Punishment

Viet Nam is also a retentionist state, which prescribes capital punishment for drug trafficking offences in order to deter criminals. The prescribed form of execution by the Vietnamese government is death by a seven-man firing squad.97 However, due to the inhuman nature of the firing squad Viet Nam's National Assembly has voted to replace firing squads with lethal injections.98 As of July 2011, the prescribed mode of execution has been replaced by lethal injection in order to reduce suffering.99


1 Ministry of Home Affairs, Drug abuse and RehabilitationThe Singapore Government's Response to Amnesty International's Report "Singapore - The Death Penalty: A Hidden Toll Of Executions"< >accessed 15 May 2011.

2 R Lines, The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: A Violation of International Human Rights Law, International

(International Harm Reduction Association 2007) accessed 17 June 2010 <, >, 10.

3 Lines (n 2) 10.

4 Lines (n 2) 10.

5 M T Aoyagi, ‘Beyond Punitive Prohibition: Liberalizing the Dialogue on International Drug Policy’(2005) 37 3 NYUJ of International law and politics New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 610.

6 Lines (n 2) 11.

7 Lines (n 2) 12.

8 E van den Haag, ‘Excerpts from “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defence”.’(1986) Harvard Law Review Association.

9 R Hood and C Hoyle, The Death Penalty A Worldwide Perspective (4th edn Oxford,Oxford University Press) 2008) 325.

10 van den Haag (n 8).

11 Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 317.

12 Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 67-111.

13 Ministry of Home Affaiirs (n 1).

14 Chee Suan Juan, The Case against the Death Penalty, 6 May

2005<> accessed 17 June 2010.

15 Ministry of Home Affairs (n 1)

16 Gilbert Geis, Pioneers in Criminology, 46 j.Crim.L.Criminology & Police Sci 1955-1956,159.

17 Thomas C C, Norwood East, Society and the Criminal Springfield III 1951,98.

18 Deryck Beyleveld ‘Identifying, Explaining and Predicting Deterrence’ (1979) 19 British Journal of Criminology 205-224.

19 Hood and Hoyle (n 9)321.

20 J Andenaes, Punishment and Deterrence (1974) in Chapter 2 Nigel Walker ‘The Efficacy and Morality of Deterrence’ Criminal Law Review (1979) 125-144.

21 Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 321.

22 Andenaes (n 20) 125-144.

23 Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 321.

24 Ibid

25 M Maguire, R Morgan and R Reiner, Chapter by Andrew Ashworth ‘ Sentencing ’ The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (4th edn Oxford University Press, New York 2007) 993.

26 M Maguire, R Morgan and R Reiner( n 25) 993

27 G Geis, Pioneers in Criminology (1955-1956)46 Journal Criminal Law Criminology & Police Science 164

28 M R Gotifredson and T Hirschi, A General theory of Crime (California,Standford University Press1999) 8.

29 Gotifredson and Hirschi (n 28) 8 .

30 Gotifredson and Hirschi (n 28) 8

31 Gotifredson and Hirschi (n 28) 8

32 M Maguire, R Morgan and R Reiner, Chapter by Andrew Ashworth ‘ Sentencing ’ The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (4th ed Oxford University Press, New York2007) 993.

33 Maguire, Reiner in Ashworth (n 32)

34 Amnesty International,<> accessed 12 May 2011.

35 J.F. Stephen, ‘Capital Punishments’ (1864) 69 Fraser’s Magazine 69 753 and 759; L Radzinowicz and R Hood, A History of English Criminal Law (1986 The Emergence of Penal Policy) 674.

36 Gotifredson and Hirschi, (n 28); Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 317-349;R J Simon and D A Blaskovich, A Comparative Analysis of Capital Punishment (Lexington Books,2007) 37-46.

37 Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 317-349; W C Bailey, ‘The Deterrent effect of the Death Penalty for Murder in California’ (1979) 52 Southern California Law Review 743; D O Cloninger and R Marchesini, ‘Executions moratoriums, commutations and deterrence: the case of Illinois’ (2006) 38 (9) Applied Economics 967.

38 G E Pataki, The Death Penalty Is a Deterrent in Stephen E.Schonebaum, Does Capital Punishment deter crime? (greenhaveb Press Inc, U.S.A, 1998) 7

39 R Bonner and F Fessenden, ‘States with No Death Penalty Share Lower Homicide Rates’, New York Times, 22 September 2000 < > accessed13 May 2010.

40 Bonner and Fessenden (n 39)

41 R Bonner and F Fessenden (n 39)

42 R Bonner and F Fessenden (n 39)

43 Maguire, Morgan and Reiner (n 32)

44 Hood and Hoyle (n 9) 320.

45 Aoyagi (n 5) 561; Gilmore N ‘Drug Use and Human Rights: Privacy, Vulnerability, Disability and Human Rights Infringements’ (1996) 12 Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy 384.

46 Ong Ah Chuan v Public Prosecutor (1980-1981) AC 648, para 64.

47 Geraghty A.H ‘Universial Jurisdiction and Drug trafficking:A Tool for fighting One of the World’s Most Pervasive Problems’, (2004) 16 Florida Journal of International Law 371 374.

48 R Lines (n 2)The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: A Violation of International Human Rights Law, International Harm Reduction Association accessed on 17 June 2010 at, p12

49 Hor M, ‘Singapore’s Innovations to Due process’ (2009) paper presented at the international Society for the reform of Criminal law’s Conference on Human Rights and the Administration of Justice, Johannesburg 9.

50 Malyasia Chief Justice Azlan Shah cited in Harrington S.L, ‘Death Drugs and Development:

Malaysia’s Mandatory Death Penalty for Traffickers and the International War on Drugs’ (1991) 29 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 365 380.

51 Harrington (n 50)

52 1995 US report to the Human Rights Committee cited in Schabas ,W.A. ‘The Federal Death Penalty and International Law’(2001) 14 Federal Sentencing Review 3.

53 Harrington (n 50) 380.

54 National Cancer Institute, Harms of smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting<> accessed 14 May 2011.

55 Cancer Institute, Harms of smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting<> accessed on 14 May 2011

56 George (n 38) 7.

57 Maguire, Morgan and Reiner ( n 32)

58 Lines (n 2) 12.

59 Aoyagi (n 5) 586.

60 Malaysia Against Death Penalty and Torture (2006), ‘No Justification for Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers-Prime Minister Abdullah Was Wrong to Endorse the Death Penalty’ ,press release 26 February 1

61 International Crime Threat Assessment, Chapter III Southeast Asia<> accessed on 23 May 2011.

62 MFA Press Statement: Singapore’s Presentation at the 11th Session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, 6 May 2011<> accessed 24 May 2011.

63 Government of Singapore (1997), ‘Letter dated 27 June 1997 from the Permanent Mission of Singapore to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions’, E/CN.4/1998/113, December, para4.

64 C Beccaria on Crimes and Punishments and other Writings in Richard Bellamy and translated by Richard Davis (Cambridge University press Cambridge 1995) 66.

65 Beccaria (n 64)

66 Lines (n 2) 14.

67 accessed 12 February 2010

68 accessed 12 February 2010

69 CNB (n 68)

70 CNB (n 68)

71 CNB (n 68)

72 Hood (n 9)..

73 <> accessed 24 June 2010 37.

74 Singapore Prison (n 73)

75 Singapore Prison (n 73)

76 Singapore Prison (n 73)38.

77 Singapore Prison (n 73) 37.

78 <> accessed 24 June 2010 38.

79 Singapore Prison (n 73)39.

80 Singapore Prison (n 73) 40.

81 <> accessed 24 June 2010 39.

82 Singapore Prison (n 73)40.

83 Singapore Prison (n 73)39.

84 Singapore Prison (n 73) 40.

85 <> accessed 24 June 2010 43.

86 <> Accessed on 24 June 2010 44.

87 (n73) 43.

88 <> accessed 24 June 2010 44.

89 <> accessed 24 June 2010,43.

90 Singapore prison (n 73)

91 Amnesty International, Death Sentences and Executions 2010 < ba51e88df2e9/act500012011en.pdf> 23 accessed 28 February 2011.

92 AI (n 91)

93 Harrington (n 50) 368.

94 Harrington (n 50) 368

95 Harrington (n 50) 368

96 Harrington (n 50) 403.

97 Vietnam committee on Human Rights, The Death Penalty in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Special edition for the 4th world congress against the death penalty accessed 19 May 2011 at < >4.

98 Hindustan Times, Vietnam to use lethal injection for death penalty < 559522.aspx> accessed 24 June 2011.

99 Reuters U.S.A, Vietnam to switch to lethal injection for death penalty< idUSTRE75O0C220110625> accessed 24 June 2011.

Ende der Leseprobe aus 76 Seiten


The Hangman’s Knot For Drug Crime. Singapore's Death Penalty in a Modern Society
Is it a Violation of the International Human Rights Standards?
Griffith College Dublin
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hangman’s, knot, drug, crime, singapore, death, penalty, modern, society, violation, international, human, rights, standards
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Jacintha Maria Victor John (Autor), 2014, The Hangman’s Knot For Drug Crime. Singapore's Death Penalty in a Modern Society, München, GRIN Verlag,


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