On Friday 26th October, Singapore executed two men for drug trafficking, bringing the total number of executions this year to nine. Our research indicates that all are for drug-related crimes, making Singapore one of the world’s top executioners for non-violent drug offences, along with Saudi Arabia and China.
Compared with the international trend towards abolition, Singapore is increasing its use of the death penalty, executing more people in 2018, than in 2017. This sits in stark contrast to Malaysia’s move toward abolition of the death penalty, and the over 90% fall in executions for drug offences seen in Iran this year.
All executions occur under Singapore’s draconian and stringent drug laws, which – with few exceptions - do not allow judges to evaluate the circumstances of each case, thus making the death sentence effectively mandatory for drugs offences.
Sadly, the upward trend in executions shows little sign of abating. On 25th October, Gobi Avedian, a 30-year-old father, was sentenced to death following a conviction for trying to smuggle a few grams of heroin into the country.
As with most people on death row for drug-related crimes, Gobi was a low-level courier who resorted to trafficking out of a mixture of ignorance of the country’s harsh laws, exploitation, and poverty: he states he was aiming to earn money to pay for his daughter's medical fees.