Singapore to end mandatory death for drug couriers

Associated Press Published: July 9, 2012

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore says it plans to change the law so that convicted drug couriers no longer receive a mandatory death sentence.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in parliament Monday that the government will seek to give judges the discretion to give life sentences to drug couriers if they cooperate with authorities in a substantive way or are mentally disabled.

Teo said Singapore would keep the mandatory death penalty by hanging for drug kingpins or distributors.

International rights groups have criticized Singapore's mandatory death penalty for drug couriers as too harsh. Singapore has argued tough penalties are a necessary deterrent to keep crime rates low.

The changes to the law must be approved by parliament, where the ruling People's Action Party controls 81 of 87 seats.