Singapore was, in the late 1990s, said to be the highest or second highest per capita executing country in the world. Much has changed for the better, yet Singapore continues to execute.
Since 2010, it seems that 5 or fewer prisoners have been executed in any one year, sometimes none. A series of internationally prominent and no doubt embarrassing comments and cases, including that of the hanging of young Australian Van Tuong Nguyen (2 Dec 2005), eventually led to much needed reforms in 2013.
The mandatory death penalty regime was considerably loosened, allowing for sentences other than death in cases which till then automatically lead to death. Singapore’s continued use of brutal colonial style floggings and hangings sits at complete odds with its reputation and image as a modern innovative State.
Singapore claims that executions make it safer. One can only ask, would Singapore make the same claim for Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or the USA? We suggest what makes Singapore safe is the efficiency of its crime detection. The time for more 21st century reform in Singapore in this area is long overdue.