Singapore admits under-reporting of drug arrests

Date: 23 September 2011

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Last year, when Harm Reduction International criticised Singapore's use of the mandatory death penalty in a piece for The Guardian, the government responded that its draconian drug laws have had a deterrent effect.

To bolster this shaky argument, Singapore's high commissioner to the court of St. James's argued that a declining number of arrests for drugs in recent years proved this assertion.

It turns out that the government admitted this week that it underreported its arrest figures.

According to Agence France Presse, 'The mistake was found to have begun in 2008 when the bureau shifted to a new information technology system.

'The correct figures show there were 2,537 drug abusers arrested in 2008 instead of 1,925 as originally reported.

'This worsened to 2,616 in 2009, instead of 1,883, and to 2,887 last year instead of 1,805.'

Of course, it is completely irrelevant whether the numbers are going up or down. Arrests tend to reflect effort (not prevalence) and international human rights norms forbid the death penalty for drugs no matter what the statistics say.

Nevertheless, if you are going to use these figures as justification for killing people, it would probably be good to make sure they are correct.

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