Should we spare the rod?
Is caning in Singapore inhumane or necessary?
US-based Human Rights Watch has recently criticised Singapore’s use of caning as punishment as the “shameful recourse to using torture.”
What's going on?
Two German men were arrested for vandalism and trespassing in November last year. Andreas Von Knorre, 22, and Elton Hinz, 21, broke into a train depot in Bishan and spray-painted a metro train. Both were recently sentenced to nine months in prison and three strokes of the cane each, despite pleading for leniency.
It is not the first time vandals have been caned in Singapore.
American teenager Michael Fay made headlines in 1994 when he was found guilty of vandalism and theft in Singapore. Then 18 years old, he was sentenced to four months in jail, a fine of S$3,500 and six strokes of the cane. There was an outcry as Americans denounced the caning sentence. Michael’s sentence was reduced from six to four strokes.
Soon after his sentence, he revealed his experience and explained how the caning had affected him.
Singapore has defended the use of caning. A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s Chambers said that “Singapore’s laws against vandalism are well-known. Caning is a prescribed punishment for the offense of vandalism, and the law applies to any person who chooses to break it.”
The Human Rights Watch has described the punishment as a “blatant disregard for international human rights standards,” adding that the punishment will tarnish Singapore’s international reputation.
Caning has often been described as excruciating painful and a traumatic experience. Other international organisations such as Amnesty International, an organisation focused on human rights, have also slammed Singapore for its corporal punishment.
The organisation has even written a full report in 2010 on judicial caning in Malaysia. The report thoroughly covers every aspect of caning from the methodology, the process of the trials and the aftermath of the punishment.
Following the sentencing in the most recent case, many Singaporeans believe that the vandals should bear the cost of their actions.
However, some people have commented that caning might be too excessive for a minor crime such as vandalism.
Others have suggested that community service should replace caning as a more effective form of punishment.
What’s your take?
- Do you support the use of caning as punishment in Singapore? Why?
- What other forms of punishment do you think will be useful to deter vandals?