There is a growing protest criticizing the practice of Singapore government requiring death row inmates to undergo a photoshoot before their execution. Critics, citizens, lawyers and human rights advocates describe the odd process as “inhumane.”
The Malaysian S Prabagaran who was hanged in Singapore on Friday for drug trafficking offenses was made to undergo the same photoshoot before his death was administered. A smiling photo of him, wearing regular persons’ casual clothes of shirt, pants and sneakers, on a high chair with white floral curtains as background as if on a studio shoot has been circulating on social media. Photos from the pre-execution prison photoshoots are then given to the families of those executed.
N Surendran, the lawyer of S Prabagaran says such photoshoot “shows the harshness of Singaporean authorities to treat a person like that. They ( death row inmates) are not dolls. He also said the act is “morbid.”
Some argue that such some families of those executed actually find the photos from the pictorial comforting somehow to see their loved ones not wearing prison garb.
Human rights activist Michelle Yesudas strongly slammed the practice. She argues that while it may be true that some families may find the photos ‘comforting’, it is insensitive to the grief and anguish death row inmates have to endure. She said:” The death penalty and a pre-execution photoshoot are archaic, morbid and inhumane practices that have no place in the modern world.”
Lawyer for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said the practice is “unusual” and “weird” for any country.
The bizarre practice has a death row inmate posing in regular clothes, the photos of which are intended to be given to their families as “memento”. It is not clear if an inmate has the option or choice not to undergo a pre-execution photoshoot.
Critics say that while Singapore is modern and progressive by economic indicators, the state remains authoritarian.