29.5 C
Friday, February 3, 2023
HomeSocietyKirsten Han on the Fight to Abolish the Death Penalty in Singapore...

Kirsten Han on the Fight to Abolish the Death Penalty in Singapore – The Diplomat

Last year, after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Singapore authorities quietly resumed executions of death row inmates. This has led to renewed scrutiny with the United Nations on city-states’ coercive application of the death penalty, even in relatively minor drug cases. express concern Regarding the pending “Surge in Execution Notifications”. A network of activists in Singapore, who have been working for years to abolish the death penalty, also strongly opposed the resumption of executions.

One of Singapore’s most active abolitionists is journalist Kirsten Han, now editor of the Mekong Review, a quarterly literary magazine on Asian culture and politics. Han has been an active participant in the anti-death penalty movement since his 2010, Transformative Justice Collective, a group calling for reform of Singapore’s criminal justice system. She also frequently speaks out on the abolitionist struggle and other issues pertinent to Singapore’s politics and society through her weekly newsletter. we citizens.

Han spoke to diplomats about the current state of the abolition struggle in Singapore and the region, class factors that determine victims of the country’s tough drug laws, and the Singapore government’s response to political dissent.

First, let’s talk about how you got involved in the abolition movement in Singapore. Was this a logical development of your journalism, or a parallel development?

At the time, I was venturing into journalism, actually initially as an anti-death penalty activist. In 2010, he started volunteering at The Online Citizen, an alternative news website (which has since closed in Singapore and is now in exile from Taiwan). At that time, TOC was campaigning to abolish the death penalty, so that was my introduction to the death penalty issue. Around the same time, I got a job as a production assistant at Lianain Films. Documentary on John Vicon, Malaysian death row in Singapore. So, I went from not knowing much about the death penalty to being quite immersed in it for a while.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Only $5/month.

Before that, I was happy to believe that the government knew what policies were best to implement. I was a firm believer that Singapore had a near-perfect judicial system and would never send someone to death row unless they were 150% sure they were guilty and deserved it. I was very shocked. Required The death penalty aspect has deprived judges of the ability to exercise discretion in making sentences.

In addition, the Substance Abuse Act also includes a presumption clause that reverses the burden of proof. If you are found to be in possession of certain amounts of drugs (such as 15 grams or more of heroin), Estimate is human trafficking, Estimate Know the nature of the drug unless it can be proven otherwise.

I realized that death row inmates are not big drug lords. They are mostly working-class men from ethnic minorities who have experienced marginalization and disadvantage in life. The more I learn about the death penalty, the more convinced I am that after 12 years of being involved in the abolitionist movement, it is a brutal injustice that does not exist in any society.

The anti-death penalty campaign seems to have gained prominence over the past year. In particular, the tragic case of Malaysian citizen Nagaensran K. Dharmalingam sentenced to drug charges Not only did April generate a fair amount of international media headlines, attention How has prominent anti-death penalty activist Richard Branson’s PAP government responded to the campaign’s recent surge in visibility? What does this say about attitudes toward dissent and criticism in the broader sense? Do you think that?

During the campaign to save Nagaen, the state has been very defensive in public statements, claiming Nagaen “knew what he was doing” and Singapore needs the death penalty. I don’t often remember the many public statements made by Minister of Justice K. Shanmugam and Minister of Home Affairs at a time of international press and public outcry.

But since then, the government has doubled down on its pro-death penalty rhetoric, with ministers attacking anti-death penalty activists on social media and calling us “drug liberals” in one post. Even if the government tries to tussle with billionaires like Branson, the government will participate in the process, sign petitions, write letters to members of Congress, file petitions for amnesty with the presidential office, and vice versa. ignoring the voices and concerns of Singaporeans who participated in Various actions and events calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

The state’s response to anti-death penalty activists highlights that they do not view critics and activists as legitimate stakeholders and voices of debate.There has been little sincere engagement or attempts at understanding on this issue why We are abolitionists. The government sells this narrative that we are radical bleeding hearts glorifying death row at the expense of those whose lives are suffering because of drug use and addiction.

But anyone who pays attention to what we say will know that we are abolitionists because of such punitive “war on drugs” policies. please do not Supporting those struggling with chronic and harmful drug use, and our abolition movement is a catalyst for change that creates a more supportive and healing environment so that people can get help when they need it. Be part of a broader impetus.

In defending the use of the death penalty, PAP officials make the utilitarian claim that it “works.” This means that it will help discourage drug use and trafficking and protect Singaporeans from related crimes. (Indeed, other Southeast Asian countries that retain the death penalty have made similar claims.) What evidence is the government presenting to support this claim?

Frankly, there is no real evidence for this claim.One of the government investigations officials point to is simply that people think The death penalty is an effective deterrent.it’s not the same as proving it teeth effective deterrent.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Only $5/month.

Let’s talk about the class side of Singapore’s anti-drug policy. Who is more likely to be on death row, and what structural factors determine who is prosecuted and who is not?

My experience over the last 12 years is that most death row inmates are ethnic minorities and mostly come from working class backgrounds. Some of them struggle with substance use, while others have become involved in the drug trade because they were gullible and manipulated into doing things for their “friends” or “brothers.” There is also Or because I was desperate and had very limited options.

Although I have not been able to go into prison and speak directly to inmates, I have spoken to many families on death row over the years. Or deprivation or marginalization.

The state strongly denies direct discrimination in the way it handles cases, but if you take their word for it, you shouldn’t forget it. Indirect Discrimination and structural factors come into play. Some areas of Singapore have a stronger police presence and stricter surveillance than others. There are those who can afford to quietly pack up and travel abroad to visit expensive private rehab facilities, or even see a doctor in Singapore without being reported to the Central Narcotics Agency.

Even when people are arrested for possession or consumption of drugs and sent to prisons or state-run drug rehabilitation centers (which are actually prisons under another name), they have the resources to recover and find themselves again when they are released. There are people who may have more resources.Stable jobs, and those whose families cannot provide such support or social capital, must contend with the stigma and discrimination that make their lives flat That’s why they might go back to drugs or get into the drug trade.

Do we have any implications for the public attitudes towards the death penalty and its abolition in Singapore? how does it affect

I think the majority of Singaporeans still say they are in favor of the death penalty. However, in my experience, this support is not as strong as the government claims. The government points to its own survey that says most Singaporeans support the policy. Survey by NUS method judged that “it is misleading to say unconditionally that there is public support for the death penalty in Singapore”. They also found weak support for compulsory death penalty in Singapore. This is actually the most common use case of capital punishment here.

Public knowledge of how the death penalty actually works in Singapore is very poor. Therefore, we must do much to educate and inform the public about the realities of the death penalty and the very harsh and punitive drug policy issues. People must be made aware that is not the way to achieve justice, repair harm, or keep people safe.

The past few years have brought a variety of news on the death penalty front.On the progressive side of the ledger is Malaysia’s last year’s decision To abolish compulsory execution of the death penalty execution rash Singapore and terrible resurrection Capital punishment by the Myanmar military government. What is your wider view of the abolitionist situation in both Singapore and Asia?

Unfortunately, Singapore is not the only government to cling to the death penalty. Progress in Malaysia is encouraging. I expect them to formally abolish the compulsory death penalty and take concrete steps towards its complete abolition.

Whenever we see progress in Asia or Southeast Asia, it’s good news for everyone. Anti-death penalty activists are often accused of “importing Western values” into Asian societies, so it is important for Asian countries to move forward step by step to ensure that this is not just a “Western” thing. is showing. And of course, the good news is that everyone has escaped execution chambers, whether they are in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan or the United States.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments