Richard Branson, a British businessman, declined an offer from government of Singapore to take part in a discussion about the death sentence. Branson has long opposed the death penalty and criticised the government for killing mentally challenged man Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, who was convicted of trafficking ‘small amounts’ of heroin.
Since the hanging in April of this year and the Singapore interior ministry’s request for a public discussion, Branson has publicly criticised the Singaporean authorities.
Branson declined to come to Singapore and urged them to speak with local activists about the matter, despite the government’s assurances that he would be permitted to present his case.
In Singapore, where the death sentence has not been used for the past two years, the April hanging has generated a wider debate. In addition to calling the invitation to Branson a ‘diversion strategy,’ some campaigners criticised the administration for adopting a strong line on the issue.
A number of countries around the world are currently re-evaluating their stance against the death penalty and even the United Nations have said in their official statements that the capital punishment has failed to impact the crime rates around the world in a ‘significant way.’