Latest: Singapore single mother awaits death row in Malaysia for drug trafficking. On the pretext of a business trip to China, Iqah was handed a suitcase containing heroin arranged by her Nigerian boyfriend and was arrested by Malaysian Immigration. A campaign is underway to raise funds for the appeal. To find out more, read

We have also heard that since Vui Kong's appeal started, there has been an unofficial stay of execution for all prisoners on death row in Changi Prison, pending the decision of the court on Yong's case. As the case has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal, we anticipate a Changi gallows bloodbath in a scale not seen since the Pulau Senang uprising in 1965 when 18 men were convicted of murder and hanged in a single Friday morning.

Singapore, which routinely persecute dissenters and critics, continue to hang young drug runners while at the same time work closely with Burmese military generals, and has invested billions in business ties with Burma, one of the biggest heroin manufacturing countries the world.


If you know someone who's charged in a capital case, received the death sentence, or is on death row in Singapore and if you have have your side of the story to tell, contact us at sgdeathpenalty [at]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The process of judicial hanging


Hanging is the oldest but most widely used method of execution in the world today. In 2009 at least 337 hangings were recorded in seven countries, down from 339 men and 4 women in ten countries during 2008. These executions took place in
Bangladesh, Botswana, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Singapore and Sudan. 10 women were hanged in Iran during 2009, the highest number in recent years. Iran also carried out a small number of public hangings of men. Sadly, the majority of those hanged in the 21st century have still had to die by strangulation, particularly in Iran. It is estimated that only 95 of the hangings during 2009 used a drop designed to break the prisoner's neck.

Iraq seems to have adopted the American style of hanging. Hanging remains the standard method of execution in many retentionist countries, notably Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, several African countries, including Botswana and Zimbabwe, and some Middle Eastern countries including Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria and in most Caribbean states.

The processes of judicial hanging.
There are 4 main forms of hanging.
  • Short drop hanging where the prisoner drops just a few inches, and their suspended body weight and physical struggling causes the noose to tighten, normally resulting in death by strangulation or carotid or Vagal reflex. Pole hanging is a variation on this method.
  • Suspension hanging where the executee is lifted into the air using a crane or other mechanism. Death is caused in the same way as with short drop hanging.
  • Standard drop hanging where the prisoner drops a predetermined amount, typically 4-6 feet, which may or may not break their neck. This was the normal method adopted in America in the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Finally, measured or long drop hanging as practised in Britain from 1874, where the distance the person falls when the trapdoors open is calculated according to their weight, height and physique and is designed to break the neck. This method was adopted in British Colonies and by some other countries who wished to make executions more humane.
    Each of these processes are examined in detail below.
After the execution. After death by any form of hanging, the body will typically show the marks of suspension, e.g. bruising and rope marks on the neck. In some cases there will have been effusions of urine and faeces as the sphincter muscles become deprived of oxygen and thus relax. The opening of the sphincters can also be caused by an adrenaline rush which is common in circumstances of extreme fear.
Total body death results usually within less than 30 minutes as the cells becomes starved of oxygen. This was one of the reasons why prisoners were left hanging for an hour in Britain. It is noteworthy that irrespective of the method of hanging it seems to take about the same time for total body death to occur.

Does the prisoner feel pain where the drop is sufficient to break their neck?
Obviously no one can be sure but it is generally held that if the person does feel pain, it is only during the instant that their neck is broken which can be measured in milliseconds (see below).
Those who witnessed 20th century British hangings never described any obvious suffering on the part of the prisoner and the two post-mortem reports that are available do not seem to indicate anything but a quick death. There were no signs of conscious suffering in the independently witnessed hangings of Westley Allan Dodd in Washington and Billy Bailey in Delaware. Although death was not instantaneous (it never is) unconsciousness was. These were the last two hanging executions in the USA.

Read more:
The process of judicial hanging (Capital Punishment UK)


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