The central business district is shrouded by haze in Singapore, on Sept. 23, 2019. Singapore conducted its first execution of a woman in 19 years on Friday, July 28, 2023, and its second hanging this week for drug trafficking despite calls for the city-state to cease capital punishment for drug-related crimes. Vincent Thian/AP

Singapore has executed a woman for the first time in nearly two decades

The central business district is shrouded by haze in Singapore, on Sept. 23, 2019. Singapore conducted its first execution of a woman in 19 years on Friday, July 28, 2023, and its second hanging this week for drug trafficking despite calls for the city-state to cease capital punishment for drug-related crimes. Vincent Thian/AP

MANILA, Philippines — Singapore has executed its first woman in nearly two decades for drug trafficking, amid protests from anti-death penalty advocates that say the punishment doesn’t deter the use or availability of drugs.

Saridewi Binte Djamani, 45, was hanged Friday after being convicted in 2018 of possessing “not less than 30.72” grams of heroin, according to Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau.

“The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine trafficked is more than 15 grammes,” the bureau said in a statement. “Thirty-point-seventy-two grammes of diamorphine is more than twice that amount, and is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 370 abusers for a week.”

Despite an appeal and an attempt to get a presidential pardon, Djamani’s punishment was imposed – making her the first woman to be executed in Singapore since Yen May Woen in 2004, also convicted on drug charges.

Singapore argues that its harsh laws help deter drug offenses in the city-state, but anti-death penalty advocates disagree.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, called Singapore’s policies inhumane and its drug law draconian.

“The execution of Saridewi Djamani, the first woman in decades to go to the gallows, shows that this galloping effort to show the government is tough on drugs will spare no one,” he said in a statement emailed to reporters. “The death penalty is an inherently cruel and unusual punishment that should be applied to no one, yet Singapore seems to positively relish these cases to demonstrate how hard they are on drugs.”

Amnesty International’s Chiara Sangiorgio said in a statement ahead of Djamani’s execution that “there is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect or that it has any impact on the use and availability of drugs.”

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