Take away death penalty and weaken war against drugs: Shanmugam

SINGAPORE - Capital punishment has worked to deter drug traffickers from Singapore and should be used as a continuing punishment for drug offenders here, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Shanmugam said that fear of hanging has kept drug offenders at bay and drug prices high.

The number of drug abusers caught in Singapore has also fallen since the 1990s, he said.

The Minister was speaking in response to questions posed by 16 MPs on amendments made to the Misuse of Drugs Act.

A Bill on changes to be made to the act states that the death penalty will no longer apply if two "specific, tightly-defined conditions" are met.

To those MPs who asked that judges be given even more discretion in death penalty cases, Mr Shanmugam warned that the death sentence could be abolished in practice, if judges are given more discretion in death penalty cases.

He also asked if Singapore was ready to accept the risks of weakening the death penalty.

Mr Shanmugam added that the "substantial assistance" condition, which allows offenders to avoid the death penalty upon cooperation with investigators, is needed to help authorities nab the real masterminds of drug syndicates.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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