Singapore: Halt the execution of Tangaraju Suppiah

Press release
en fr

Paris, 25 April 2023. Singaporean authorities must immediately halt the imminent execution of Tangaraju Suppiah, a 46-year-old Singaporean convicted of drug-related offenses, FIDH urged today. Mr. Suppiah is scheduled to be executed by hanging at Singapore’s Changi Prison on 26 April 2023.

FIDH reiterates its condemnation of the Singaporean government’s ongoing imposition of the death penalty, in particular for offenses that do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes,” which is set by Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). United Nations jurisprudence has repeatedly and unequivocally stated that drug-related offenses do not meet such threshold.

“The Singaporean authorities’ continued use of the death penalty as part of their war on drugs is utterly reprehensible. The Singaporean government must immediately align its drug laws and policies with international human rights law and standards,” said Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary-General.

Mr. Suppiah is the first prisoner on death row to receive an execution notice in 2023. In 2022, Singapore executed a total of 11 individuals, all of whom had been found guilty of drug-related offenses. It was the second highest number of executions recorded in one year since 2007, according to official statistics.

On 19 April 2023, Mr. Suppiah’s family received a notice letter from the Singapore Prison Service informing them of the scheduled execution. In 2017, the High Court found him guilty of abetting an attempt to traffic approximately 1 kg of cannabis into Singapore and sentenced him to death.

On 23 January 2014, Mr. Suppiah was arrested on a separate offense of drug consumption and failure to report for a drug test. While he was detained, authorities identified him as potentially linked to the arrests of two individuals for conspiring to traffic cannabis in September 2013. Mr. Suppiah was convicted of abetting a drug trafficking attempt based on the court’s finding that a phone number used to coordinate a delivery of cannabis belonged to him. Mr. Suppiah continues to maintain his innocence in this case.

In August 2022, Mr. Suppiah and 23 other death row prisoners filed a joint application, without being represented by any lawyer, to seek a review of their death sentences by the Court of Appeal. Their application was dismissed by the court.

FIDH renews its calls on Singapore’s government to make progress towards the abolition of capital punishment for all crimes, including by: reinstating a moratorium on executions; commuting all death sentences; and signing and ratifying the ICCPR and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

FIDH, a founding member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) and a member of its Steering Committee, reiterates its strong opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances.

04/27/23 Update: Regretfully and in spite of numerous and repeated calls to prevent this, Tangaraju Suppiah was executed by hanging on 26 April 2023. Before his execution, he spent five years on death row after having been sentenced for a drug-related offense. FIDH condemns this barbarous act by the Singaporean authorities and renews its call for urgent reforms of Singapore’s drug laws and for the abolition of the death penalty for all offenses.

Read more