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Showing posts from November, 2005

When in Rome

Australia is in an uproar over the case of Nguyen Tuong Van, an Australian citizen who was arrested by Singapore authorities in 2002 for drug smuggling - 396 grams of heroin, to be exact. After being duly convicted, he was sentenced to death. Nguyen was on his way to Australia with the heroin, where it could have been split into as many as 26,000 hits, with street value of $500,000 to millions. Australia eliminated the death penalty in 1973. Nobody is claiming that Nguyen is innocent. They are merely arguing that the death penalty is barbaric. Whenever this comes up, it is always discussed in terms of "we can't believe anyone in the 21st century still does this." But the question is really not is the death penalty ever justified (because it is). The questions that should be getting asked, but are not, are: Is Singapore's criminal justice system competent and fair? What is the likelihood that Nguyen is actually innocent? Are there mitigating factors that should be