Singapore set to hang first woman convict in two decades by end of this week

AYESHA SHEIK MAZRUL
AYESHA SHEIK MAZRUL
27 Jul 2023 05:19pm
Singapore court to sentence a woman drug convict for the first time in 20 years.
Singapore court to sentence a woman drug convict for the first time in 20 years.
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SHAH ALAM - Singapore would be sending a woman to the gallows this week, its first in nearly 20 years, according to local human rights group Transformative Justice Collective (TJC).

The woman identified as 45-year-old drug convict Saridewi Djamani, was sentenced to death in 2018 by the Singaporean High Court for trafficking around 30 grammes of heroin.

According to a Singaporean news site, Saridewi was caught on June 17, 2016 with accomplice Muhammad Haikal Abdullah, who delivered the drugs to her flat in exchange for two envelopes containing SGD15,500 in total.

During her trial, Saridewi claimed that she was stocking up on heroin for her own use during the fasting month and that she had been suffering from persistent depression and severe substance abuse disorder.

When questioned, Saridewi did not deny her act of selling heroin but merely tried to downplay the magnitude of her actions.

In the grounds of the decision, the judge pointed out inconsistencies in Saridewi's statement where she claimed that she stopped smoking heroin in 2014 but in court, she claimed to have relapsed and was a severe heroin addict.

Her urine test after her arrest in June 2016, however, did not indicate any heroin use.

Regarding her claims of mental health, a psychiatrist report found that while it was true she had a long history of drug abuse, Saridewi was not diagnosed with any mental illness or intellectual disability.

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According to The Guardian, TJC stated that Saridewi was not able to give accurate statements to the police because she was suffering from drug withdrawal.

This claim was refuted by the court as she was found "at most suffering from mild to moderate methamphetamine withdrawal" and it did not hinder her ability to give statements.

TJC, along with Amnesty International, Anti Death Penalty Asia Network, and other human rights groups had called for an immediate halt to the scheduled execution.

In the joint statement addressed to the Singaporean Government, they claimed that the decision to retain capital punishment for drug laws only serves to punish low-level traffickers and couriers, who usually come from marginalised and vulnerable groups.

“Are we only catching the small guys and not the big guys? It’s a non-question because, you know, the big guys don’t come into Singapore for good reasons," the statement said.

The statement also called for Singapore to pursue a more human route to address the complex problem of drug trafficking in the country, particularly with the lack of evidence that the death penalty is an effective mitigator to curb drug offences.

Singapore imposes the death penalty for certain crimes, including murder and some forms of kidnapping. It also has some of the world’s toughest anti-drug laws and trafficking more than 500 grammes of cannabis and 15 grammes of heroin can result in the death penalty.

At least 13 people have been hanged so far since the government resumed executions following a two-year hiatus in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore insists that the death penalty is an effective crime deterrent.

In a statement, Amnesty’s death penalty expert Chiara Sangiorgio said that it was unconscionable that authorities in Singapore continue to cruelly pursue more executions in the name of drug control.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect or that it has any impact on the use and availability of drugs.

“As countries around the world do away with the death penalty and embrace drug policy reform, Singapore’s authorities are doing neither,” Sangiorgio added.