Singapore's Deadly Drug War

Singaporeans weigh in on the controversial death penalty

Singapore's Deadly Drug War Singapore’s drug laws are among the toughest in the world, with a mandatory death penalty given to anyone caught with a prescribed amount of illegal drugs. While the state argues that these strict laws protect families, others question the ethics of such regulation, which disproportionately targets poor and vulnerable members of society.
M Ravi, a Singaporean human rights lawyer, says that the death penalty does not account for the conditions from which people traffic drugs. “Most of the drug traffickers are drug mules. Just look at their profile. They are very poor. They’re stuck in structural poverty.” Protests have broken out over the past few years over cases of the death penalty which seem particularly unfair, like that of an intellectually disabled man caught trafficking drugs. But not everyone disagrees. Bruce Mathieu is a recovering drug addict who has found a new appreciation for Singapore’s drug laws. “I am not about to give the safety of my society just because someone don’t want to be hanged for trafficking drugs.” According to government reports, the majority of Singaporeans, 65.6%, agree that the mandatory death penalty is an appropriate punishment for trafficking a significant amount of drugs. But activist Kokila Annamalai is pushing back on the ethics of these views. “If we chopped off people’s hands, would less people steal? Perhaps. Shall we do it? What kind of society do we want to be?”

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