SINGAPORE is facing criticism from Human Rights Watch after the country’s Supreme Court handed out a death sentence via video-conferencing platform Zoom. According to reports, a Malaysian drug trafficker named Punithan Genasan was sentenced to death on May 15 after he was found guilty over the trafficking of at least 28.5 grams of heroin. The Supreme Court said this was the first time they had given a death sentence in a remote hearing.
Zoom is a video calling platform that has become popular across the world since the coronavirus lockdown began forcing people to work from home. The platform is being used for online classes, business meetings as well as for court hearings in some parts of the globe.
Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch said that it is “inhumane” to give capital punishment without the accused being present in the courtroom to sit face-to-face with his accusers. “Singapore’s use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and the use of remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it even more so,” Phil was quoted as saying by Human Rights Watch.
Virtual ruling in Nigeria
Earlier this month, a Nigerian court sentenced a man to death by hanging him in the country’s first-ever virtual ruling through the Zoom video conferencing platform. The virtual hearing, which lasted almost three hours, was attended by all participants from different locations to contain the spread of coronavirus. As per reports, the judge joined the video link from Lagos High Court in Ikeja, while the accused Hameed joined from Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, and the lawyers joined from elsewhere.