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Human rights groups have condemned last week’s execution of a Singaporean national, the first woman in 20 years to be executed under the city-state’s strong punishment measures for drug crime.

Saridewi Binte Djamani, was executed in Changi Prison on 28th July after being convicted of trafficking 30.7g of heroin in 2018.

The 45-year-old had a history of using drugs, and while she did not contest the offence, she said the majority of the heroin was intended for personal use. Her appeals against the sentence were unsuccessful and she spent five years on death row.

Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau said Djamini had been awarded “full due process under the law” and was legally represented through the proceedings.

Following the execution, Amnesty International released a statement saying that Singapore’s use of the death penalty for drug offences is not only a violation of international law, but also a practice that has been shown to do little in deterring drug use.

“We call on the international community, particularly States who have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, to help halt this inhumane, ineffective and discriminatory practice in Singapore,” the organisation said in a statement.

Associate Professor Mai Sato from Melbourne’s Monash University Law School said in a media statement on 31 July that “globally, women on death row are a minority, representing less than five per cent of the death row population.”

“But the execution of women often captures the imagination of people to support death penalty abolition,” Sato said.

“In the UK, the execution of Ruth Ellis [the last woman hanged in the country] helped strengthen the abolition movement in the country. In the US, the execution of Lisa Montgomery [the first woman executed in the US federal system in decades] caused public outcry after gender-based violence and bias that led to her death sentence were exposed.

“I take the view that every execution is unjust, but stories of women facing the death penalty are often filled with violence, coercion and exclusion, as demonstrated in our recent report.

“Given Singapore has the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, meaning courts cannot take into consideration the circumstances that led to the offending, we won’t know why and how Djamani ended up trafficking approximately 30g heroin.”