6 in 10 people think drug traffickers should be sentenced to death
About six in every 10 Singaporeans and permanent residents think drug traffickers should be sentenced to death.
A study commissioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that 61.5 per cent of respondents agreed the death penalty should be mandatory for anyone convicted of intentionally trafficking a substantial amount of drugs.
The study was conducted from October 2019 to January 2020, and had 2,000 respondents who were aged 18 and above.
Of the respondents, 64.1 per cent agreed that a person who intentionally traffics a substantial amount of drugs into Singapore deserves the death penalty because he or she would have harmed the lives of many addicts. A total of 62.9 per cent of them said such offenders deserved death because they also harmed the lives of many addicts’ families.
Similarly, in another study conducted by MHA’s Research and Statistics Division (RSD) in 2021, 65.6 per cent of 2,000 respondents aged 15 and above said the death penalty should be mandatory for trafficking a significant amount of drugs.
Among those who felt this way, more than half (55 per cent) said it was because drug trafficking is a serious crime and a danger to society.
Respondents who said they were neutral or disagreed with the mandatory death penalty (34.4 per cent) were probed further in the survey and asked to choose between a discretionary death penalty and life imprisonment as the more appropriate punishment for drug trafficking.
Of these, 22.6 per cent chose the discretionary death penalty, 61.6 per cent chose life imprisonment, and 15.8 per cent said they did not know.
A majority (67 per cent) of those who chose the discretionary death penalty for drug trafficking said they believed the authorities would be in a better position to decide on whether the death penalty should be given to the offender.
Respondents who felt that life imprisonment was a more appropriate punishment mostly cited a preference for rehabilitating offenders, or were pro-life in nature.
However, the studies also found that murder was generally seen as a more heinous crime justifying death as punishment.
A total of 71.4 per cent of respondents in the IPS study and 80.5 per cent of respondents in the RSD survey felt that the mandatory death penalty was appropriate for those convicted of intentional murder.
As for firearms offences, 60.1 per cent in the IPS study and 71.1 per cent in the RSD survey felt the death penalty was appropriate.
MHA said the studies showed most Singaporeans and permanent residents agreed the death penalty is effective in deterring serious crimes like drug trafficking.
The IPS study found that 78.9 per cent believed it deters drug traffickers, and 70.8 per cent believed it is more effective in doing so than life imprisonment.
In the RSD survey, 79.2 per cent agreed that removing the death penalty would likely increase the amount of drugs trafficked into Singapore.
Outside of Singapore, more than eight in 10 residents in the region said the death penalty made people not want to traffic substantial amounts of drugs into Singapore.
In a study conducted by the MHA’s Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre involving 7,221 respondents from six unnamed regional cities, the majority (87.2 per cent) said they agreed it was a deterrent.
A total of 82.5 per cent also said the death penalty was more effective as a deterrent than life imprisonment for drug trafficking.