ADPAN calls on Singapore to immediately halt the imminent execution of Muhammad Ridzuan bin Mohd Ali


17 May 2017
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) urges the government of Singapore to halt the execution of Mr Muhammad Ridzuan bin Mohd Ali, 31, now said to be scheduled on 19 May 2017. We call on the President of the Republic of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam to show mercy and grant Ridzuan clemency.

Muhammaad Ridzuan and Abdul Haleem were both convicted for two charges of trafficking in diamorphine under s 5(1)(a) of the MDA read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed). However, only Abdul Haleem received the certificate of substantive assistance. This resulted in them receiving different sentences. Abdul Haleem was sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane, and Muhammaad Ridzuan was given the mandatory death sentence.

In Singapore, for drug offences carrying the mandatory death penalty, it is only when the Public Prosecutor issues the certificate of substantive assistance pursuant to s 33B(2)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) will the courts have the discretion to hand down other sentences, other than the death penalty. In Muhammaad Ridzuan’s case, despite having provided the necessary information to the Central Narcotics Bureau as to who gave him the drugs, with full name and identification, he was not given the Certificate, thus leaving the judge with no choice but to sentence him to death.

ADPAN is disheartened by the seemingly arbitrary issuance of the Certificates of Substantive Assistance by the prosecution. Discretion on sentencing must be with the courts. It is totally unjustifiable for the Public Prosecutor to have the ultimate power to decide who gets issued the Certificate, consequently, who gets to live or who not.

While we understand Singapore’s public health concerns on the entry of illegal drugs, we strongly oppose the use of death penalty as a solution. There is no evidence of efficacy of the death penalty in solving addiction or the entry of prohibited substances, even in Singapore. Despite carrying out executions, the Singaporean authorities continue to arrest drug mules and intercept large amounts of illegal drugs. The death penalty has shown to be not a deterrent.

Ridzuan was not raised in the best of circumstances, having to grapple with poverty that pushed him into working a series of jobs to contribute to his family’s income. Ridzuan did not get the best opportunities in life and he has realised his wrongdoings while in prison, and we believe he has demonstrated the potential for rehabilitation. His family has attested how he renewed showing more maturity in his words and actions. The execution on Friday, if to take place, will deprive a changed man of his right to life. In a statement, his family have pointed out that there would be no opportunity for him to commit a similar crime if his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

The death penalty is an affront to human dignity. It disregards the right to life, the very basis of all human rights. ADPAN believes that these rights should be protected by the State at all times. We therefore ask the President and the Government of Singapore to show mercy and stop Ridzuan’s execution, and to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

Ngeow Chow Ying
For and on behalf of the ADPAN Executive Committee

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is an independent cross-regional network committed to working for an end to the death penalty across the Asia Pacific region. ADPAN is made up of NGOs, organizations, civil society groups, lawyers and individual members, not linked to any political party, religion or government and campaigns against the death penalty. It currently has members in 28 countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, UK, USA.

Download PDF of the Statement via this link: ADPAN Calls on Singapore to immediately halt execution of Muhammad Ridzuan bin Mohd Ali






ASEAN parliamentarians urge Duterte: Reject death penalty

(15 Feb 2017, ABS-CBN News) Parliamentarians from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday urged Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies at the House of Representatives to reject the re-imposition of the death penalty in the country, and to respect the Philippines’ international obligations and standing in the ASEAN as a regional leader in human rights protection.

Instead of bringing back the death penalty, the Philippines and ASEAN should think about reforms, preventive measures, and rehabilitation, as ways of deterring crimes instead of the old “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” doctrine, Cambodia Rep. Mu Sochua, Battambang Representative of the National Assembly of Cambodia, said.

“Killing, in whatever form, is a form of violence. Death penalty is the extreme form of violence,” Sochua said.

Malaysia, a nation that still imposes capital punishment, still gets opposition from its legislators lobbying for the abolition of the punishment that has been labeled as anti-poor.

Malaysian Batukawan Representative Kasthuri Patto of the Parliament of Malaysia said most victims, if not all, of capital punishment in Malaysia are the poor.

“The ones who are normally victims of this are the marginalized, the poor. Members of the opposition have been lobbying to push for the abolition, particularly in drug trafficking,” Patto said.

“Of the 1,000 people who are in death row, 600 are foreigners,” Patto added.

She added that the Malaysian government has already put up a committee that will look into the methods of the death penalty.

The Philippines, represented by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, argued that there is consensus worldwide that the death penalty is not an effective means of combating crime, including illegal drugs.

“Iran has had the death penalty since 1959 and yet they admitted the death penalty did not solve their drug problem,” she said.

“Singapore and Hongkong…Hongkong has no death penalty, Singapore does, but they have the same crime rate,” Hontiveros added.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians also reminded the Duterte administration about the country’s international obligations.

The Philippines formally abolished capital punishment in 2006 and ratified in 2007 the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) aimed at the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

“We have always been inspired by your people power movement, democracy. We want to continue to put you in that high platform, to play that role to protect fundamental rights for our people,” Sochua said.

“The Philippines must commit to its true self of being a righteous nation, a nation of faith, a nation that is looked upon,” Patto said.

The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said that since the Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006, it has inspired other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to restrict the use of the death penalty, which denotes positive regional progress in the move toward abolition. – ABS CBN News, 15/2/2017

Philippines: House of Representatives must uphold international law obligations ahead of first death penalty vote


19 February 2017

Ahead of the first vote on the proposed legislative amendments to reintroduce the death penalty in the Philippines, the undersigned organizations are calling on the country’s lawmakers to uphold its international law obligations and vote against the measure. The move would set the Philippines against its positive achievements in this area and the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

On 20 February the House of Representatives of the Philippines is expected to vote on a Bill to reintroduce the death penalty for a wide range of offences. The move would violate the country’s intended obligations under international law. In 2007 the Philippines ratified the Second Optional Protocol of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights that categorically prohibits executions and commits the country to the abolition of this punishment. These obligations cannot be withdrawn at any time.

We remain concerned at the “U turn” that the present administration is proposing for the country on the issue of the death penalty. Since its abolition of the death penalty − for the second time − in 2006, the Philippines has been a strong advocate of the abolition of the death penalty and has championed several initiatives to this aim in international forums. It has also worked to commute the death sentences imposed on Filipino nationals abroad, such as overseas workers. The legal assistance and political pressure that the authorities of the Philippines have provided to those facing this punishment in other countries has undoubtedly contributed to the protection of their rights, including the right to a fair trial, and could become ineffective if moves were made to re-introduce this penalty back home.

As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; several governments are taking steps to repeal this punishment from national law.

The reasons countries abolish the death penalty are many and include the fact that there is no evidence that killing by the state deters crime, and much evidence to the contrary; that the death penalty invariably discriminates against the poor and disadvantaged, and that society and the state are seriously harmed and brutalised by descending to the act of killing prisoners.

A move to reintroduce this punishment would set the Philippines starkly against the global trend towards abolition. We oppose the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances as a violation of the right to life, recognized by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

We renew our call on the members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines to ensure its international commitments are respected and the Bill to reintroduce the death penalty is rejected.

This statement is signed by:

ADPAN-Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network
Amnesty International
Death Penalty Focus
ECPM-Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort
FIACAT-Federation of Actions of Christians for the Abolition of Torture
FIDH-International Federation for Human Rights
MADPET-Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture

UNGA Resolution 2016 -24 of OIC’s 57 member states voted in favour, 13 abstained and 18 voted against

The resolution adopted on Dec 19, 2016 was backed by 117 states, while 40 voted against it and 31 abstained.
South Asia maintained its fondness for the death penalty as Pakistan joined Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Maldives in rejecting a universal moratorium, while Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka voted in favour.
24 of the OIC’s 57 member states voted in favour of the moratorium, while 13 abstained and only 18 voted against. The Muslim states that voted against were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Egypt, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Those who abstained included: Bahrain, Came­roon, Comoros, Djibouti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and the UAE.

The love of hanging

PAKISTAN chose to vote against the recent resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that had called for a global moratorium on the death penalty and was adopted by a majority of member-states.

The gist of this resolution has been adopted by the UN General Assembly every two years since 2007. The resolution adopted on Dec 19, 2016 was backed by 117 states, while 40 voted against it and 31 abstained. As against the voting pattern in 2014, the new supporters of the moratorium call were Guinea, Malawi, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Swaziland.

South Asia maintained its fondness for the death penalty as Pakistan joined Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Maldives in rejecting a universal moratorium, while Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka voted in favour.

Pakistani authorities have an aversion to any scrutiny of the rationale for retaining the death penalty.

Those who defend the death penalty as a principle enjoined by Islam may look at the division among the Muslim states (the category includes all members of the OIC).

Those voting in favour of a moratorium included: Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kazakh­stan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Suriname, Togo, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Those who abstained included: Bahrain, Came­roon, Comoros, Djibouti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and the UAE.

The Muslim states that voted against were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Egypt, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

We find that 24 of the OIC’s 57 member states voted in favour of the moratorium, while 13 abstained and only 18 voted against. In other words, Pakistan is in the minority group of 18 OIC member-countries that opposes the moratorium.

It is for Pakistan’s government and its Islamic scholars to ponder as to why a majority of the OIC members do not find any faith-based bar to the acceptance of a moratorium on capital punishment. They may also consider the possibility that, as in the case of some international treaties, reservations expressed in the name of religion are in fact dictated by the culture or custom of the countries concerned.

What is more distressing for human rights activists, abolitionist groups and promoters of humanitarian laws in Pakistan is the authorities’ aversion to any scrutiny of the rationale for their love of the death penalty regime.

What one hears of references to the death penalty during the Universal Periodic Review or at talks with the European Union on the GSP+ status is not the result of any serious deliberation. Indeed, one doubts if any discussion on the subject has ever taken place in Pakistan. That there is an urgent need for such a discussion can easily be established.

The recent cases in which the Supreme Court acquitted two individuals who had already been executed, or ordered the release of persons who had spent long years on death row, have strengthened the call for abolition of the death penalty on the ground of high risk of miscarriage of justice. A number of other issues that have surfaced over the past many years also need to be addressed. These are:

• The view that the death sentence is not a deterrent to crime has not been challenged nor has the view that hangings brutalise society.

• The Qisas law has prevented the president from pardoning death convicts or commuting their sentence although his power to do so under Article 45 of the Constitution remains intact. How does one explain the fact that the army chief can pardon a person awarded the death sentence by a military court while the president cannot do so?

• The scholars agree that Islam prescribes the death penalty in only two instances. How does the state defend the fact that capital punishment is prescribed for 27 offences in the name of religion?

• The judiciary has pointed out the problems it faces in cases in which capital punishment is mandatory if the evidence on record warrants a lesser penalty.

• The possibility of a minor or a mentally challenged person being executed keeps cropping up every now and then.

One ventures to suggest a look at the Indian response to the issue of the death penalty in view of the shared legal tradition.

The Law Commission of India recommended in August 2015, vide its Report No. 262, that “the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism-related offences and waging war”. The commission agreed to retain capital punishment for certain offences in view of the parliamentarians’ plea that “abolition of death penalty for terrorism-related offences and waging war will affect national security”, although in the commission’s view “there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes.”

The commission noted the significant steps taken during India’s decades-long efforts to restrict the use of the death penalty: removal of the requirement of giving special reasons for awarding life imprisonment instead of death (1955); introduction of the requirement of imposing the death penalty (1973); and the Supreme Court’s decision that the death penalty should be restricted to the rarest of rare cases (1980). The conclusion reached by the commission was:

“Informed also by the expanded and deepened contents and horizons of the right to life and strengthened due process requirements in the interactions between the state and the individual, prevailing standards of constitutional morality and human dignity, the commission feels that time has come for India to move towards abolition of the death penalty.”

During the latest debate in the UN General Assembly, however, India again voted against the resolution calling for a moratorium although it could have shown some respect for the Law Commission’s recommendation by abstaining. Which only goes to show that, in developing countries, state policies are often determined by authorities that are too timid to disturb the status quo or too proud of their conservatism to heed the counsel of experts who are conscious of the call of the age.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2017

Thailand – Death penalty proposed for corrupt public officials

Monday, 9 January 2017

Death penalty proposed for corrupt public officials

BANGKOK: A proposal to impose the death penalty on any convicted corrupt public official who incurs more than 1bil baht (RM125mil) in damage to the state has been tabled for the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) meeting.

The proposal was made by its political reform steering committee, chaired by Seree Suwanpanont, as part of their report on regulation and scrutiny of the exercise of government power.

The NRSA will also consider a proposal for adjustment in the recruitment of independent agency commissioners.

Besides tougher examination of politicians, the committee proposed that state officials be scrutinised equally in corruption cases.

The reform drivers proposed five years imprisonment for convicted corrupt officials who incur no more than 1mil baht (RM125,188) losses to the state.

Under the proposals, those incurring from 1mil to 10mil baht (RM1.25mil) and 10mil to 100mil baht (RM12.5mil) should face 10 and 20 years jail respectively, while those inflicting losses between 100mil and 1bil baht (RM125mil) should receive a life term.

The committee also proposed that once the NRSA passed the report, it should be submitted to the Cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the Constitution Drafting Commission for further deliberation.

The report centres on reforming the mechanisms for scrutiny of the executive branch. Among them is reform of the independent agencies, including the Constitutional Court.

It was proposed that the process for recruiting commissioners and judges as stipulated in the charter that passed last August’s referendum should be adjusted.

Previously, it was set out that representatives from related independent agencies should play a part in the recruitment. However, the NRSA political reform steering committee suggested that details of such representatives should be spelled out clearly – whether to use the current commissioners and personnel or others. It said this was to prevent any lack of transparency.

In addition, as the new charter has laid out very high qualifications for commissioners, the committee urged clear definition and scope of those qualifications so that the recruitment could be of the same standard.

The opportunity to join the independent agencies’ commission should be opened up to practitioners of all careers, the committee proposed. — The Nation / Asia News Network – Star, 9/1/2017

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