25 Feb 2022
STATEMENT BY THE PERMANENT MISSION OF SINGAPORE REGARDING COMMENTS MADE BY THE OHCHR ON SCHEDULED JUDICIAL EXECUTIONS IN SINGAPORE
We refer to the comments made on 15 February 2022 by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Ravina Shamdasani regarding the scheduled judicial executions of two individuals that have been convicted of drug trafficking in Singapore – Pausi Bin Jefridin (“Pausi”) and Roslan Bin Bakar (“Roslan”).
Facts of Case
Pausi and Roslan were arrested by Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in 2008 for their involvement in a drug transaction at a public car park on 14 June 2008. The transaction involved a bag containing more than 5 kilogrammes of a granular substance, which was analysed and found to contain not less than 96.07 grammes of diamorphine, i.e., pure heroin.
Pausi and Roslan were charged with, and convicted of, trafficking not less than 96.07 grammes of diamorphine (or pure heroin). 96.07 grammes of diamorphine is equivalent to about 8,010 straws of heroin, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 1,150 abusers for a week. Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act (“MDA”) provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine trafficked is more than 15 grammes.
Pausi and Roslan were sentenced to the death penalty on 22 April 2010. Their appeals against their convictions and sentences were dismissed by the Singapore Court of Appeal on 17 March 2011.
In 2012, Singapore removed the mandatory death penalty for certain drug trafficking cases, where certain conditions are met. A trafficker who was involved only in transporting, sending or delivering the drugs need not face the mandatory death penalty if one of two conditions are met. The first is where the trafficker has substantively assisted the CNB in disrupting drug trafficking activities. The second is where the person was suffering from an abnormality of mind which substantially impaired his mental responsibility. These changes were the result of a regular criminal justice review, and rigorous, open debates in Parliament.
After the amendments to the death penalty regime under the MDA came into effect in January 2013, Roslan and Pausi were eligible to apply for re-sentencing. They filed applications on 24 June 2016 and 11 July 2016 respectively for their death sentence to be set aside and to be re-sentenced to life imprisonment instead.
On 13 November 2017, the Singapore High Court dismissed both applications. Pausi and Roslan then appealed against the High Court’s decision, and the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals on 26 September 2018.
Their subsequent petitions to the President of Singapore for clemency were unsuccessful.
Pausi and Roslan were accorded full due process under the law and were represented by legal counsel throughout the process.
In February 2022, Pausi and Roslan filed a series of legal applications to challenge their sentences. All but one has been dismissed, with the last, pertaining to the constitutionality of the death penalty provisions under the MDA, scheduled to be heard by the High Court on 28 February 2022.
Pausi and Roslan’s Intellectual Capabilities
In considering the applications from Pausi and Roslan for re-sentencing, the High Court had considered their mental condition at the time of the offence. Based on the evidence at trial, including Pausi and Roslan’s own testimonies, the High Court found that both men were “functioning in ways no different from people with higher IQ level in relation to the drug offences”. They had “displayed competence and comprehension of what they were doing when they carried out their act of trafficking in the drugs”.
Significantly, the High Court found that Roslan was the central figure in the drug transaction, directing the actions of the others involved and orchestrating its moving parts. As for Pausi, the High Court found that he was able to deliver the drugs from outside Singapore and participated in the operation with little difficulty. The Court found that the conduct and behaviour of both men, cannot be regarded as that of affecting their culpability. In addition, the Court ruled that a low IQ level alone is not evidence of an abnormality of mind.
Assistance Rendered to Pausi and Roslan’s Families
The Singapore authorities had provided assistance and support to the families of Pausi and Roslan since they were notified of the judicial executions. For Pausi in particular, the Singapore authorities had kept in close contact with his family, who resides in Malaysia, to facilitate their entry into and stay in Singapore, and their subsequent return to Malaysia.
No International Consensus on the Death Penalty
There is no international consensus for or against the use of the death penalty when it is imposed according to the due process of the law and with judicial safeguards. There is also no international consensus on what are the most serious crimes, which are not explictly defined under international human rights law.
Every country has the sovereign right to determine its own criminal justice system, based on its circumstances and in accordance with its international obligations. This right was reaffirmed most recently, and for the third consecutive time, by a significant number of UN Member States voting in support of the sovereignty amendment in the 75th UN General Assembly resolution on a “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty”. This right should be respected.
In Singapore, the death penalty is only applied to the most serious crimes, including drug trafficking, which cause grave harm to others and to society. In sympathising with drug traffickers like Pausi and Roslan, we should not overlook the immense harms that the drugs have caused to the abusers who bought and consumed the drugs, as well as their families.
Capital punishment serves the larger interests of Singapore society by ensuring our people’s fundamental human right to safety and security. It is applied only after due process of law and with judicial safeguards. The vast majority of Singaporeans understand the need for a tough stance against drugs and strongly support our strict laws and penalties for drug offences.
Singapore consistently tops international rankings on safety and security. Singaporeans and foreign nationals and companies value the high level of personal safety they enjoy in Singapore, testifying to the appropriateness and effectiveness of our criminal justice policies. Countries should be free to choose for themselves the approaches that best suit their individual circumstances.
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