A 37-year-old man living in Singapore has been sentenced to death through a video call carried out on Zoom, a meeting platform.
According to reports, the sentence was handed out to 37-year-old Punithan Genasan on May 15, 2020, which is during the coronavirus lockdown.
This is the first time in the history of the country that a punishment has been delivered in a remote way.
Genasan, a 37-year-old man from Malaysia, was handed the most severe punishment in the country for being involved in trafficking 28.5 grams of heroin in 2011.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court of Singapore, said:
For the safety of all involved in the proceedings, the hearing for Public Prosecutor v Punithan A/L Genasan was conducted by video-conferencing.
A number of hearings in Singapore have been adjourned since lockdown measures were introduced in April this year.
The country has one of the highest coronavirus cases in all of Asia.
The country has 29,364 confirmed cases of the virus and 22 confirmed deaths.
Peter Fernando, the lawyer of Genasan, said that his client was considering an appeal.
Fernando also confirmed that he did not object the fact that Zoom was used to sentence his client.
However, Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, was not happy with what happened.
Singapore’s use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and the use of remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it even more so. The absolute finality of the sentence, and the reality that wrongful convictions do occur around the world in death sentence cases, raise serious concerns about why Singapore is rushing to conclude this case via Zoom.
Singapore has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal drugs.
According to Amnesty International, Singapore is one of the 4 countries in the world on our planet that still execute people for drug offenses.
Chiara Sangiorgio, the death penalty advisor of the group, said:
Whether via Zoom or in person, a death sentence is always cruel and inhumane. This case is another reminder that Singapore continues to defy international law and standards by imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking.
4 people were executed in Singapore last year, and in 2018, the numbers were 13.