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Joint Statement Urging Singapore to Halt the Impending Executions of Two People for Drug Offences

15 February, 2022

Download the full statement here.

Harm Reduction International (HRI), the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), urge the Singaporean Government to immediately halt the impending execution of Roslan bin Bakar and another person on death row for a drug offence, which is scheduled for this Wednesday 16 February 2022; and call on UN entities including OHCHR and UNODC, the European Union and its Member States, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and all relevant stakeholders to take urgent action. Mr bin Bakar was arrested in 2008 in connection to a drug transaction, and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2010 for trafficking 96.07 grams of diamorphine and 76.37 grams of methamphetamine. 

Mr bin Bakar’s conviction was largely based on the testimonies of others, who reportedly admitted to agreeing to frame him as the mastermind of the operation. Mr bin Bakar, a Singaporean, reportedly experiences mental health issues, and fair trial concerns were raised in appeals to his death sentence, all dismissed by the Court. Similar concerns were raised in the case of another individual whose execution was announced, also for 16 February and also for drug trafficking. Singaporean authorities scheduled Mr bin Bakar’s execution while aware that his lawyer is currently on medical leave and not practising law, making any legal action against the pending execution particularly challenging. 

Authorities in Singapore have planned and notified these executions whilst waiting for a new hearing on the case of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, the 32-year-old Malaysian whose hanging was halted at the last minute in November 2021. The decision to execute Mr Dharmalingam, who was also convicted of drug trafficking, and also experiences significant mental health issues, was condemned by a broad range of actors, including disability rights activists, networks of people who use drugs, the Malaysian Prime Minister and King, Delegations, members of the legal and medical profession, and UN human rights experts. 

The use of the death penalty for drug offences is a clear violation of international human rights as well as drug control standards, as reiterated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). Contrary to the Government’s claims, there is no proof that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect on drug use or trafficking.. Rather, the use of death penalty, and punitive drug policies more generally, work to deepen stigma and discrimination against people who use drugs while entrenching cycles of poverty and marginalisation. Research by Harm Reduction International shows Singapore is one of few countries that regularly sentence individuals to death for drug offences, at a time when more and more countries are moving away from using the death penalty as a tool of drug control. 

In addition, the imposition of capital punishment against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities is prohibited by international law and a violation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Singapore ratified. We call on the Government of Singapore to halt all scheduled executions and to commute death sentences, as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty, and towards drug policies which centre health and human rights.