Singapore hangs first woman in 19 years following conviction for trafficking heroin

Buildings in Singapore, on Monday, June 5, 2023. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Singapore executed a woman for the first time in 19 years on Friday, marking the city-state's second death by hanging this week for convicted drug traffickers.

Saridewi Djamani, 45, was sentenced to death in 2018 for trafficking nearly 31 grams of pure heroin, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau. The agency described the amount as "sufficient to feed the addiction of about 370 abusers for a week."

Despite calls from activists to end capital punishment for drug-related crimes, Singapore mandates the death penalty for anyone convicted of trafficking more than 500 grams of cannabis and 15 grams of heroin.

Two days before Djamani's execution, 56-year-old Mohammed Aziz Hussain was executed by hanging for trafficking approximately 50 grams of heroin, and another drug trafficker is set to be executed next week, the Associated Press reported.



Buildings in Singapore, on Monday, June 5, 2023. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Both Djamani and Hussain were given due process, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau, which allegedly includes appeals of their conviction and sentence, and petition for clemency.

The last known time a woman was hanged in Singapore was in 2004 when 36-year-old hairdresser Yen May Woen was executed for drug trafficking.

The city-state has been asked to do away with executions for drug offenses by human rights groups, international activists and the United Nations, all of whom say evidence shows that capital punishment does not deter illegal drug activity.

Singapore authorities disagree with those findings and insist the death sentences are important in slowing drug demand and supply, according to the AP.



Singapore authorities have ignored pleas from human rights groups, international activists and the United Nations to put a halt on executions for drug-related offenses. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The execution set for Aug. 3 is for a former delivery driver convicted in 2019 of trafficking around 50 grams of heroin, according to Transformative Justice Collective, a Singapore group that advocates to abolish capital punishment. 

The man maintained in his trial that he thought he was delivering contraband cigarettes for a friend he owed money to, adding that he trusted his friend, so he didn't check the bag's contents. Though the court determined him to be a courier, he still had to be given the death penalty under Singapore's laws, the group said.

If his execution takes place as scheduled, it would be the city-state's fifth this year.

Human rights groups say 15 people have been executed in Singapore for drug offenses since hangings resumed in March 2022, an average of one a month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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