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Singapore hangs two drug dealers despite resistance

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Two drug traffickers were hanged in Singapore on Thursday, bringing the number of executions to four this year in the city-state, despite growing calls for the death penalty to be abolished.

Activists said the prison department handed over the belongings and death certificates of Malaysian national Kalwant Singh and Singaporean Norasharee Gous to their families following their executions on Thursday morning.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other anti-death penalty groups said the executions were a flagrant disregard for international human rights norms.

According to Amnesty, Singapore is one of only four countries known to have executed people for drug-related offenses in recent years, bucking a global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

“The death penalty is never the solution and we oppose it unconditionally. There is no evidence that it acts as a unique deterrent to crime,” said Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Research.

“We call on the Singaporean authorities to immediately stop this latest spate of executions and to impose a moratorium on executions to end this shameful and inhumane punishment,” Gil said in a statement.

Kalwant, convicted of bringing heroin to Singapore in 2016, became the second Malaysian to be executed in less than three months. In late April, the hanging of another Malaysian man who was believed to be mentally handicapped sparked an international outcry.

Kalwant made a last-minute appeal on the eve of his execution for being just a courier and cooperating with the police, but the appeal was rejected by Singapore’s top court, activists said.

Critics say Singapore’s death penalty has mostly trapped low-level mules and has done little to stop drug traffickers and organized syndicates. But the Singapore government defends it as necessary to protect its citizens and says all those executed were given due process under the law.

Four other drug traffickers, including two other Malaysians, were due to be hanged earlier but their executions were postponed over legal challenges.

Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for Singapore to end executions for all drug-related offenses and commute the sentences of those sentenced to death.

“The recent drug seizures in the country show the hollowness of Singapore’s claims about the alleged deterrent effect of these gruesome executions,” said Asia Deputy Director Phil Robertson. “The nations involved in the growing global movement to abolish the death penalty should call out to clear up Singapore’s unruly behavior and demand that all executions stop.