Men Sentenced to Death via ‘Zoom’ in Nigeria and Singapore


Men have been sentenced to death via  the teleconferencing app, Zoom, in two countries as human rights groups protest the rulings over the video chat platforms.

The death sentencing of 37-year-old Singaporean drug dealer Punithan Genasan was slammed by rights groups, calling the ruling “inhumane.”

He was found guilty of trafficking slightly over an ounce of heroin in 2011.

According to The Guardian, Genasan’s trial was held online “for the safety of all involved in the proceedings.”

Genasan’s lawyer said that his client has received his sentence, but will be considering an appeal.

Singapore initiated coronavirus lockdown measures in April–which has meant that essential court cases have been conducted remotely since.

Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia, said: “The absolute finality of the sentence, and the reality that wrongful convictions do occur around the world in death sentence cases, raise serious concerns about why Singapore is rushing to conclude this case via Zoom.”

In Nigeria, a man found guilty of the 2018 murder of his mother’s employer was also handed a death sentence over the video conferencing app.

Olalekan Hameed was summoned to a conference on the app from prison where a judge, based in Lagos, gave him the verdict, according to CNN.

Hameed continues to deny the charges, in spite of becoming one of over 3,000 Nigerians on death row.

Amnesty International has decried the sentence. Their Nigeria director, Osai Ojigho, has been fighting against the death penalty and questioned why the ruling over Zoom could not be postponed until after social distancing.

Arguments against capital punishment–especially over video chats–involve the possibility of wrongful conviction and fail to give the defendant full proceedings.