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Shanmugam defends death penalty at UN

Singapore has defended its continued use of the death penalty at a side event of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly meeting.

Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, said there was a need to assess the different situations in different countries.

Pointing out that capital punishment in Singapore was targeted at drug traffickers, Mr Shanmugam said: "Drug production and transportation is now a major sophisticated multinational corporation activity run by cold, calculating, ruthless operators who trade the lives of their victims for profit."

Every year, he added, drug abuse kills up to 250,000 people worldwide, most of them young people.

NOT REVENGE

The high-level event, known as Moving Away from the Death Penalty: National Leadership, saw UN officials push for an end to capital punishment.

Calling it a "primitive practice" which was "unjust and incompatible with human rights" and should be abolished, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said: "The right to life represents everything the UN stands for."

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said: "Revenge alone is not justice.

"As we work toward that objective, enabling contrition, we must continue to put an end to the application of the death penalty, which is the very example of human vengeance at its worst."

He also said it disproportionately affected the poor and minorities.

But Mr Shanmugam, who linked the fact that Singapore is one of the safest countries to its tough stance on drugs, said: "This is not revenge; this is not vengeance. This is based on the principle of deterrence and clear rule of law."