21 MAY 2019

Singaporean authorities must halt the imminent execution of Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, a 32-year-old Malaysian national, Amnesty International Malaysia said today.

Pannir Selvam’s family were informed last Friday of his scheduled execution on Friday 24 May. He was sentenced to the death penalty after he was convicted of possession of diamorphine in 2017. 

The use of the death penalty and its imposition for drug-related offences contravene international law and standards.

“Singapore authorities must immediately halt plans to kill Pannir Selvam Pranthaman and put a stop to this continuous wave of callous executions. The Malaysian government should do all in its power to urge the Singapore government to stop the execution of another of its nationals.” said Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia.

The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment that has no place in any society, as more than two-thirds of the world’s countries have come to recognise.

Alarmingly, the number of executions in Singapore surged into double digits last year, for the first time since 2003. “The death penalty is a degrading and inhuman punishment. We denounce its use in all circumstances. It is time for Singapore to follow the government of Malaysia’s example, who have suspended all executions and announced plans to abolish the mandatory death penalty, as a first step towards abolition.” said Shamini.

Amnesty International is aware of the execution of at least one other Malaysian, Michael Anak Garing, by the Singapore authorities on 29 March this year. The Singapore authorities carried out 13 executions in 2018 and eight in 2017, also for drug offences, but details of all were not publicly available.


During trial, Pannir Selvam Pranthaman maintained his innocence by denying knowledge that he was carrying prohibited drugs and the Singapore High Court judge, in convicting him, found that he was a drug mule. According to his lawyer, Pannir Selvam also assisted the Singapore authorities by providing information about a fellow Malaysian, who is alleged to be responsible in duping him into carrying the drugs to Singapore. Despite this, he was denied the certificate of assistance by the public prosecutor.

Under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act, the court has the discretion not to impose the death penalty if the convicted offender is a courier and has been issued a certificate by the public prosecutor stating that he had cooperated with authorities.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

As at today, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 142 in total are abolitionist in law or practice. In 2017 the death penalty was imposed or implemented for drug-related crime in 15 countries, but Amnesty International recorded executions for drug-related offences in only four – China (which classifies figures as a state secret), Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.