Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Death by hanging - A view from Singapore

Independent Singaporean NGO the Think Centre, has decried the ongoing use of the death penalty for drug mules, while the big fish go free.

Sinapan Samydorai writes "Any humane criminal justice system could not continue to justify the retention of the death penalty based on retribution.

The Singapore government continues to ignore the UN Special Rapporteurs recommendation of 1996. "The Special Rapporteur wishes to reiterate his call on the Government of Singapore to change its Drug Act so as to bring it into line with international standards. The Special Rapporteur considers that the Misuse of Drug Act, which partially shifts the burden of proof to the accused, does not provide sufficient guarantees for the presumption of innocence and may lead to violations of the right to life when the crime of drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence."

On 25 January 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, said: "Singapore law making the death penalty mandatory for drug trafficking was inconsistent with international human rights standards, because it keeps judges from considering all of the factors relevant to determining whether a death sentence would be permissible in a capital case." “In the case of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, the Government of Singapore has failed to ensure respect for the relevant legal safeguards. Under the circumstances, the execution should not proceed.”

In Singapore drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence and is inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality. When a court wrongly sentences a person to death, the result is irreversible...

Think Centre calls on the government, the members of parliament, to abandon the use of death penalty.

A sentence of life in prison for the most serious offenses would keep us just as safe.

The government could offer more help and guidance to troubled kids before they turn to drugs and crime. Instead of investing in vengeance, it ought to be investing wisely in humanity and human dignity.

Death penalty is a practice from the past like torture and slavery which must be rejected by all decent human beings. The death penalty is a inhumane, cruel and degrading punishment. The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights."

This demonstrates the depth of unease within Singaporean society about the ongoing misuse of the judiciary and the rule of law to serve what are, clearly, political objectives.

No comments: