SINGAPORE — Rights groups Tuesday hailed Singapore’s decision to ease mandatory death sentences for homicide and drug trafficking but urged the government to go further and totally abolish capital punishment.
Singapore, which carries out executions by hanging, Monday unveiled legal reforms that would enable judges to impose life imprisonment on low-level drug couriers and people who commit murder with “no outright intention to kill”.
Judges currently have no choice but to impose the death penalty on anyone convicted of murder or trafficking in illegal drugs above specific volumes.
Under the new laws, expected to come into force later this year, inmates on death row would also have the chance to ask for their sentences to be commuted to life imprisonment.
“Amnesty International welcomes the Singaporean Government’s move toward putting an end to the mandatory death sentencing for drug trafficking and homicide cases,” the human rights group said in a statement.
The proposed changes could save the lives of inmates on death row, it added.
Officials say there are currently 35 inmates on death row in Singapore, although executions have been suspended since July 2011 as part of a review that led to the proposed new legislation. — AFP