Singapore, like a lot of Asian countries, has a zero-tolerance drug policy. So much so, that the possession and sale can come with a heftier consequence than prison. In the most recent case, a man from Singapore was sentenced to death for cannabis by hanging. Back in 2018, Omar Yacob Bamadhaj was caught importing one kilogram of cannabis from Malaysia to Singapore. Channel News Asia reported the story that is now gaining traction nationally.
The story and authorities claim that Bamadhaj ordered the cannabis and, ‘without knowing the nature of the package’, picked them up at a mosque in Malaysia. Another source says the arrest happened at the border during a routine check. Here, both Omar and his father, who was in the car during the check, claim they did not know about the cannabis onboard. They explained that two friends placed the luggage containing the plant in the car; but, did not disclose the contents.
The case is becoming more complicated as conflicting details arise. A police interview says he was paid $500 to import the package. Other reports allege that the Central Narcotics Bureau coerced Omar into a false confession and the initial story. The claim was mostly ignored, however. Despite the details, the punishment is extreme. Other countries like Japan and China have had extreme consequences for cannabis crimes. This situation marks an extreme turning point, however.
EXTREME CASES FOR CANNABIS
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only ridiculous cannabis case getting attention. In Dubai, a British coach, Billy Hood, was convicted of drug trafficking with intent to supply, resulting in a sentence of 25 years. Daily Mail reported that the new Dubai-resident was arrested back in January of this year. This happened after four vape cartridges were found in his car. The vapes supposedly belonged to a friend who forgot them in Hood’s car. Hood was allegedly tasered, beaten for five days, and put in an overcrowded cell before being forced to sign a confession in Arabic. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are reports that the vials contained CBD, not THC. There was also no THC in Hood’s system, which resulted in the 25-year sentence versus a 27-year sentence.
Both Omar and Billy’s cases show a side of cannabis prosecution that many don’t think about. What’s worse is the coercion and blatant hypocrisy in both cases. Both men have appealed the court’s decisions. In response to Omar’s denial, Death Penalty Advisor for Amnesty International, Chiara Sangiorgio, told Vice: “…the Singapore authorities have violated international safeguards and sentenced yet another person convicted of drug trafficking to death by hanging.” Vice hasn’t been the only outlet to decry what has happened. Numerous publications and advocates have shared the stories in horror of the facts. At the moment, nothing, in either case has changed.
“Singapore’s heavy reliance on draconian laws and policies have not only failed to tackle the use and availability of drugs,” Sangiorgio said, “they also give zero effective protection from drug-related harm and instead facilitate a raft of human rights violations.”-Ganjapreneur, Singaporean Man Sentenced to Death Over Kilogram of Cannabis