Singapore witnessed the execution of a woman for the first time in 19 years on Friday, marking the second death by hanging this week for individuals convicted of drug trafficking. Saridewi Djamani, aged 45, was condemned to death in 2018 for trafficking nearly 31 grams of pure heroin, a quantity the Central Narcotics Bureau stated could fuel the addiction of about 370 users for a week.
Despite the clamor from activists to abolish capital punishment for drug-related offenses, Singapore’s law mandates the death penalty for anyone found guilty of trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis or 15 grams of heroin. Earlier this week, Mohammed Aziz Hussain, 56, was also hanged for trafficking approximately 50 grams of heroin. Another individual convicted of drug trafficking is scheduled for execution next week.
The Central Narcotics Bureau confirmed that both Djamani and Hussain were accorded due process, which included the opportunity to appeal their conviction and sentence, and to petition for clemency. The last known execution of a woman in Singapore was in 2004 when Yen May Woen, a 36-year-old hairdresser, was hanged for drug trafficking.
Human rights groups, international activists, and the United Nations have persistently called on Singapore to abolish executions for drug offenses, arguing that evidence indicates that capital punishment does not deter illegal drug activity. However, Singapore authorities insist that death sentences are crucial in curbing the demand and supply of drugs.
The forthcoming execution, slated for August 3, involves a former delivery driver convicted in 2019 for trafficking around 50 grams of heroin. The man claimed during his trial that he thought he was delivering contraband cigarettes for a friend to whom he owed money. Despite being classified as a courier by the court, he was sentenced to death under Singapore’s stringent laws. If the execution goes ahead as planned, it will be the fifth execution in Singapore this year.
According to human rights groups, since the resumption of hangings in March 2022, 15 people have been executed in Singapore for drug offenses, averaging one execution per month.