The Envisaged Juridical Reform
Background - Calls for change
In 2005, Singapore saw the first public gathering that voiced out a dissenting view on mandatory death penalty. Death penalty has been the law for serious crimes in Singapore since 1975. The case of Shanmugam Murugesu, executed in 2005 for smuggling cannabis into Singapore, provoked the citizens to demand a change to the law.
Just two years ago, Singapore’s Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam made a pellucid statement that, as of then, there was no change in the Government’s legislative policy on mandatory death penalty. He asserted that the Government of Singapore takes a strict stance on mandatory death penalty, which applies to crimes such as murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking, because this position has had a deterrent effect. It saves thousands of lives. Mr Shanmugam also couched that the Government does not make exceptions to this rule because such an approach would subvert the Government’s efforts to control crimes.
Mr Shanmugam made these remarks during the high time of discussions on the recent case of Yong Vui Kong. This case again pushed Singaporeans to question the justice of mandatory death sentence. Mr Shanmugam’s comments that reflected the Government’s fastness on this issue invited further criticisms from Singaporeans and human rights activists from all over the world.
These events have efficaciously triggered the review of death penalty in Singapore. On 9 July 2012, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law announced the proposed changes to the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking and homicides offences.
The changes proposed will relieve mandatory death penalty for some drug trafficking and homicide offences and grant judges discretion in the sentencing under very strict conditions. The legislative changes proposed are as follow.
Changes to mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking offence
Pursuant to the Misuse of Drugs Act, anyone convicted for...