Singapore: IBAHRI and ICJ respond to Ministry of Law and Ministry of Home Affairs on the death penalty and cost sanctions

by | Oct 27, 2022 | Advocacy

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) reiterated the international human rights law and standards relevant to the use of the death penalty, and the imposition of cost sanctions against death row lawyers, in an open letter published today.

The joint open letter was sent to Minister K. Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Minister for Home Affairs. It responds to the statements published by Singapore’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 8 September 2022 to the IBAHRI and ICJ.

The IBAHRI and ICJ have previously issued statements calling on the Singaporean authorities to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and to cease using cost sanctions against lawyers representing death-row inmates.

In the open letter, the IBAHRI and ICJ underscored how:

  • Capital punishment cannot be imposed for drug-related offences under international law because drug offences do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold;
  • Imposing cost sanctions on death row lawyers has obstructed the right of death row inmates to effective legal representation and access to justice;
  • Discrimination also includes indirect discrimination, where an action or policy has an unjustifiable disparate impact upon a group based on a protected characteristic; and
  • There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crimes more effectively than any other form of serious punishment.

The IBAHRI and ICJ called on Singapore to join the worldwide trajectory towards abolition of the death penalty, starting with an immediate introduction of a moratorium on all sentences and executions with a view to abolition.

The IBAHRI and ICJ emphasized that they remain available for constructive dialogue and engagement with all relevant stakeholders, such as representatives of MinLaw and MHA, with the aim of contributing to Singapore aligning its laws, policies, and practices with international human rights law and standards with regards to its use of the death penalty.

The joint open letter can be downloaded here.


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