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Singapore hangs first woman convict since 2004

The 45-year-old was executed for drug trafficking despite appeals from rights groups

People walk across Jubilee Bridge on Marina Bay in Singapore on May 25

People walk across Jubilee Bridge on Marina Bay in Singapore on May 25. (Photo: AFP)

Published: July 28, 2023 05:03 AM GMT

Updated: July 28, 2023 05:29 AM GMT

Singapore on Friday hanged a 45-year-old citizen for drug trafficking, the city-state's first execution of a woman in nearly 20 years, officials said.

The execution was carried out despite appeals from rights groups, who argue capital punishment has no proven deterrent effect on crime.

"The capital sentence of death imposed on Saridewi Binte Djamani was carried out on 28 July 2023," the Central Narcotics Bureau said in a statement.

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She was convicted of trafficking "not less than 30.72 grams" of heroin, more than twice the volume that merits the death penalty in Singapore.

Djamani, who was sentenced in 2018, "was accorded full due process under the law, and was represented by legal counsel throughout the process," the bureau said.

"She appealed against her conviction and sentence, and the Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal on 6 October 2022," the bureau said, adding that her plea for presidential clemency was also rejected.

Djamani is the first woman to be executed in the city-state since 2004, when Yen May Woen was hanged for drug trafficking, the Singapore Prison Service told AFP in an email.

Yen was a 36-year-old hairdresser, according to media reports.

Djamani on Friday became the 15th prisoner sent to the gallows since the government resumed executions in March 2022 after a two-year pause during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A local man, Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, 57, was hanged on Wednesday for trafficking about 50 grams of heroin.

Tragic spotlight

Local rights group Transformative Justice Collective said Friday it had confirmed that another drug convict on death row has been scheduled for execution on August 3.

It identified the convict as a Singaporean man who worked as a delivery driver before his arrest in 2016. He was convicted in 2019 of trafficking around 50 grams of heroin.

"This week has cast a harsh and tragic spotlight on the complete lack of death penalty reform in Singapore," said Amnesty International's death penalty expert Chiara Sangiorgio

"As most of the world turns its back on this cruel punishment, Singapore’s government continues down the path of executing people for drug-related crimes, violating international human rights law and standards."

Singapore, a wealthy regional financial center, insists the death penalty has helped make it one of Asia's safest countries.

The city-state has some of the world's toughest anti-drug laws — trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis or over 15 grams of heroin can result in the death penalty.

Amnesty and other rights groups urged the government to halt the executions this week, saying there was no evidence the death penalty acted as a deterrent to crime.

"This is the fourth execution this year and there will be another one next week. It's horrible for the families and worrying for other death row inmates," Singaporean rights activist Kirsten Han told AFP.

There "is no sign of the government wanting to give an inch," she added.

Billionaire Richard Branson on Thursday urged Singapore to "grant mercy" to Djamani and stop her execution.

Singapore is among four countries — along with China, Iran and Saudi Arabia — confirmed to have executed prisoners for drug-related offenses last year, Amnesty said.


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