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Singapore Amends Death Penalty Law to Exempt Some Offences

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore, which imposes the death penalty for crimes including murder and drug trafficking, amended its law today to exempt some cases from the mandatory sentence while boosting enforcement.

The nation will uphold the death penalty for those who manufacture and traffic drugs, though the punishment will no longer be mandatory for all those caught carrying drugs exceeding certain amounts, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said today. The government will also introduce new tests, such as hair analysis, to detect drug abuse more effectively.

“For drugs, the war is ongoing,” Teo said in Parliament. “We want to give our drug enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe. These amendments will make our regime tougher and enhance the effectiveness of the death penalty regime.”

Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. Still, the city state has been criticized by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International for maintaining the death penalty even as more than two-thirds of countries worldwide have abolished it in law or in practice.

Singapore’s amendments are also aimed at drug traffickers targeting minors, the government said.

The government today also amended the penal code and exempted non-intentional murder from the death penalty.

“In July, I had said that the changes will ensure that our sentencing framework will better balance the various objectives, which is justice to the victim, justice to society and justice to the accused, and mercy in appropriate situations to the accused, as well,” Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in parliament. “We hope that we are on the right path to try to achieve that.”

Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code requiring the court of appeal to approve a death penalty sentence “will provide another safeguard in our capital punishment regime,” said Shanmugam.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sharon Chen in Singapore at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at

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