Singapore’s Bizarre Pre-Execution Photoshoot

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The unusual practice in Singapore of death-row inmates having their photos taken before they are sent to the gallows – some say it’s inhumane and morbid, some say it’s comforting to the family.


S Prabagaran, the Malaysian convicted of drug trafficking, was executed yesterday morning at Changi prison. The lawyer representing his family has called Singapore’s practice of having death-row inmates take part in a photoshoot “a day or two” before their execution “inhumane”.


“It shows the harshness of Singaporean authorities to treat a person like that. They (death-row inmates) are not dolls,” N Surendran told FMT.

He was commenting on a tweet by Singaporean journalist Kirsten Han who uploaded a picture of a smiling Prabagaran.

“This was taken of Prabagaran this week as part of the pre-execution prison photoshoot. Photos are then given to the family,” Han wrote.

Kirsten Han/Twitter

 In a later tweet, she said that while the practice seemed morbid, she had heard that some relatives find it comforting to have photos of executed loved ones “out of prison garb”.

Human rights activist Michelle Yesudas said although a smiling photo might be some comfort to a grieving family, staging a pre-execution photoshoot is insensitive to the grief and anguish the inmate one has to endure when on death row.

“The death penalty and a pre-execution photo shoot are archaic, morbid and inhumane practices that have no place in the modern world,” the activist said.

Calling it a “weird” practice, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said, “It’s a bit unusual for me, but every country has its own jurisdiction.”

Eric Paulsen/Twitter

 The bizarre photoshoot practice has the death-row inmate posing in regular clothes and the photos will be given to the family as mementoes.

Related report: Jul 13, Malaysian Hanged in Singapore for Drug Conviction