Singapore must stop targeting HR defenders and media(Malaysiakini)

This was a joint statement of 37 groups and 3 individuals, whereby ADPAN was one of co-signatories. It was carried by Malaysiakini, one of popular online media, and also by several other sites. OUR VOICES get to many more people when media reports on our statements. [See earlier post for the earlier statement)
Letter

Singapore must stop targeting HR defenders and media

Aliran et al

Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | We, the 37 undersigned groups and organisations, and three individuals, are appalled by Singapore’s denial and response to the highlighting of alleged “barbaric” unlawful practices in execution method that was highlighted vide a Jan 16 media statement issued by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).

Singapore claims that it is “untrue, baseless and preposterous”.

We are also shocked by Singapore’s invoking of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), and the issuing of notices and directions ordering LFL and three parties that have shared the allegations – Singaporean activist Kirsten Han, The Online Citizen website and Yahoo Singapore – to correct the false statements.

To comply with this Pofma Order, Singapore authorities said: “They will be required to carry a correction notice alongside their posts or articles stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods”.

Non-compliance with the Pofma notice is a crime, and if convicted an individual may be liable to a fine not exceeding S$20,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, whereas others will be liable to a fine not exceeding S$500,000.

The notice can also lead to an access blocking order, whereby service providers will have to disable access by end-users in Singapore to the online location.

It is not a defence even if one has applied to the responsible minister to withdraw or vary the order, appealed to court or is “subject to a duty under any written law, any rule of law, any contract or any rule of professional conduct, that prevents the person from complying with the Pofma notice”.

It is deplorable to ask any human rights defender or media agency to publicly take a position that the alleged rights violations and/or injustices that they highlighted or reported on are false or contains falsehood.

Where there is an allegation of a wrongdoing or a crime, it is the duty of a human rights defender or any concerned person to highlight it, and thereafter, it falls on the relevant government, or relevant national, regional or international bodies to conduct the needed independent investigation and determine whether what was alleged was true or baseless.

Note that many investigations may even come to no conclusions due to insufficiency of evidence, and this should in no way lead to the assumption that the allegations were untrue.

A perusal of the LFL statement shows that the source of their information, amongst others, is from a credible source – a Singapore prison officer.

This would reasonably be someone who had first-hand knowledge of what was being alleged.

In the LFL statement, it also mentions that this officer is prepared to come forward and testify at the appropriate forum.

LFL also highlighted this allegation earlier, in its Nov 23, 2019 statement, where it said: “Finally, we’ve also received shocking information relating to the process of execution at Changi prison.

“We have incontrovertible evidence that unlawful and extremely brutal methods are secretly used in carrying out hangings by the Singapore Prison Services. We are prepared to reveal this evidence, supplied by prison officers, in due course.”

LFL, in the Jan 16 statement, also said it had written to the Singapore authorities and informed them it is prepared to meet them and hand over the evidence in its possession.

However, the Singapore government met LFL’s disclosures with deafening silence.

Significantly, the government also did not deny LFL’s allegation of brutality in carrying out hangings, which has been widely reported.

The Singapore government should have rightfully met with LFL, received the evidence and conducted a proper investigation and disclosed its findings.

According to law, police are not supposed to torture detainees, but the fact is that some police officers do torture and even kill those in their custody.

It may not the government’s fault, but the fault of these errant officers who did wrong.

But, if a government, after receiving information of such wrongdoings, chooses to do nothing about it, then it can be said that the government that “covers up” wrongdoings of public servants or simply ignores it may be just as guilty of the said wrongdoings.

The media is obliged to report to the public, and that includes statements and positions of ordinary people and human rights defenders.

Most media outlets, would as a matter of good practice, try to get a response from the alleged perpetrator or other relevant parties but the news ought never be stifled simply because the perpetrators (or interested parties) do not provide an immediate response.

Of course, most media will carry even a late response from the alleged perpetrator or other interested parties.

Obligations imposed on the media should not be the same as those imposed on individuals using social media.

Many good people who share news or views on social media, if they do get a response from alleged perpetrator or interested parties, will also usually share that response with their readership.

In Malaysia, many human rights violations and even crimes that were highlighted by HR Defenders or media were investigated by the government.

As an example, in Malaysia, it was the investigation by the New Straits Times Special Probes Team into the mass killings in Wang Kelian in 2015 that highlighted and suggested a massive, coordinated cover-up.

It revealed the human trafficking death camps had been discovered months earlier, but police only announced the discovery on May 25.

It also questioned why the police ordered the destruction of these camps, which were potential crime scenes before they could be processed by forensics personnel?

The Malaysian government’s response was to investigate this case, and on Jan 16, it was reported that the Home Ministry will present a report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Wang Kelian human trafficking incident to the Cabinet next week.

Hopefully, thereafter the report will be made public.

Like Malaysia, Singapore too should have conducted a comprehensive investigation on the allegations raised by LFL, and not try to “force” LFL and others who highlighted this issue to publicly admit that it contained falsehood.

Publicly highlighting allegations or facts of wrongdoings, rights violations and injustices today is a means of ensuring that justice is done, for otherwise relevant governments and enforcement authorities can sometimes chose to simply “cover-up” such allegations.

It is wrong for any government to use laws and crimes (with serious penalties) to prevent human rights defenders, media and others from highlighting allegations of wrongdoings.

Such laws that undermine the responsibilities of human rights defenders, including media, ought to be repealed. Freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly ought to be protected.

The courage to highlight possible human rights violations, injustices and wrongdoings should be applauded, not stifled or penalised.

The media reported that the Singapore Minister of Communications and Information had on Jan 23 directed the Infocomm Media Development Authority to get Internet service providers here to block the LFL website for not complying with a correction direction issued under the fake news law.

Therefore, we call on Singapore to:

– immediately and unconditionally withdraw the notice and internet access blocking orders pursuant to Pofma that were directed at LFL, Kristen Han, The Online Citizen, Yahoo Singapore and others.

– ensure an independent and thorough investigation is conducted concerning allegations of unjust and barbaric practices that allegedly happened during the hanging of persons in Singapore.

– respect human rights defenders and media agencies, and not to stifle them from carrying out their responsibility and duty to highlight allegations of human rights violations and injustices.

– abolish the death penalty.


The above is a joint statement from Aliran, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan), Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (Afad), Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons from Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- HRDP in Myanmar, Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila–Atrahdom, Guatemala, Australians Against Capital Punishment, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (Masum), India, Dutch League For Human Rights, Empower Foundation Thailand, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (Find) – Philippines, German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Global Women’s Strike United Kingdom, Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center, Karapatan Alliance Philippines, LAW United Kingdom, Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), Malaysian Trade Union Congress, Manushya Foundation Thailand, MAP Foundation (Migrant Assistance Program) Thailand, North-South Initiative, Odhikar Bangladesh, Payday Men’s Network United Kingdom. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (Pacti) India, People’s Empowerment Foundation Thailand, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign, Suaram Malaysia, Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance Nepal, The Advocates for Human Rights, The Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation, The Julian Wagner Memorial Fund Australia, Union for Civil Liberty Thailand, Workers Assistance Center Inc Philippines, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty/ Coalition mondiale contre la peine de mort, WH4C (Workers Hub For Change), Vucong, Giao (School of Law, Vietnam National University Hanoi), N Jayaram  (Journalist, Bangalore) and Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman (human rights defender from Bangladesh, in Hong Kong) – Malaysiakini, 2/2/2020

ADPAN mentioned in mainstream media

‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 04 Nov 2018

THIRTY-five people were hung to death in Malaysia for the crimes they committed over the past decade.

These numbers, as recorded by the Prisons Department, will end here.

With the Government determined to remove the death penalty, some hailed it as the more humane approach – upholding the right to life.

Others, however, feel the hangman’s noose is still needed to answer to the heinous crimes man is capable of.

Murder, rape resulting in death, drug trafficking and committing terrorism are examples of offences punishable by death.

With a moratorium imposed on the penalty, 1,281 death row inmates are spared.

But abolishing the death sentence doesn’t mean zero punishment, says Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan) executive committee member Ngeow Chow Ying.

“It is just not an appropriate sentence.

“The alternative is imprisonment and it has to be culpable to the crime,” she tells Sunday Star.

Last month, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said those on death row will have their sentence commuted to imprisonment for life or life imprisonment.

Imprisonment for life means convicts will spend the rest of their lives in prison without any release date.

Life imprisonment requires them to be jailed for a minimum of 30 years.

Looking forward, Ngeow says the concern is to look into prison reform, jail sentences for serious crimes and what can be done to rehabilitate prisoners.

“After the death penalty is abolished, these are the issues that should be looked into.

“About 55,000 people are in prison now. But the criminal justice system isn’t supposed to lock them up and forget about it.

“Its purpose is to rehabilitate them and see if they can be reintegrated into society,” says Ngeow.

But she acknowledges the feelings of some victims and their families, who may want the death penalty as the means for justice to be served.

“If they feel the death penalty is the only way to cure their pain, we have to respect that.

“But for us, we believe that you can’t send a message that murder is wrong by killing another person,” says Ngeow, from Adpan which consists 80 organisations across 22 countries.

In Western countries, she observes that some families believe that their suffering cannot be compensated by the death penalty.

“Some just want answers to what happened,” she adds.

Calling it cruel and inhumane, senior criminal lawyer Datuk V. Sithambaram says the death penalty belongs in the past.

“In the old days, justice was always an eye for an eye.

“But as Mahatma Gandhi would say, this will only make everyone blind.

“We need to move on to a more humane form of justice. Studies show that the death penalty hasn’t been proven to deter crimes,” he says.

Drawing from experience, he says many accused persons claim they would rather die than to be imprisoned for life. – Star,

“They don’t want to languish in jail. They would rather accept death.

“So, to me, the minimum 30-year jail term or being jailed for life is more of a deterrent than death,” Sithambaram says.

He says other forms of punishment can be included in the sentence, such as community service.

“The Pardons Board should review cases to see if the convict is able to change.

“Many can make themselves better and useful through rehabilitation.

“We all regret the wrong things we have done. Those who genuinely repent should be given a second chance,” he says.

Human rights lawyer Andrew Khoo says community work should be made possible as part of the replacement sentence.

For the 1,281 people on death row, he suggests that there should be a provision for the High Court to review the sentences imposed.

“There should not be a simplistic replacement of, say 30 years.

“Each case must be considered based on its own facts and situation,” he says.Khoo stresses that the whipping should not be part of the replacement punishment.

“Corporal punishment is against the United Nations Convention Against Torture.Malaysia has said we will also accede to that. So we should not violate that as well,” he says.

On the death penalty giving victims and their families a sense of retribution, Khoo says the state should not be involved in the business of revenge.

“Justice needs to be dispassionate. It should not be influenced by emotion.

“When we allow our feelings to influence our sense of justice, there is a risk we will arrive at an unjust outcome,” he adds.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman says the government’s decision on the death penalty was made after taking all views into account.

“As part of the ministry that will implement the policy, we support the Cabinet’s decision.

“Let the Cabinet decide on the finer details, such as the replacement sentences and the possibility of incorporating community service, later,” he says.

Pemerintah Didesak Buat Kebijakan untuk Hapus Hukuman Mati

Ramadhan Rizki, CNN Indonesia | Kamis, 10/05/2018 04:26 WIB
Pemerintah Didesak Buat Kebijakan untuk Hapus Hukuman MatiWakil Koordinator Bidang Advokasi KontraS, Putri Kanesia. (CNN Indonesia/Bimo Wiwoho)
Jakarta, CNN Indonesia — Komisi untuk Orang hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (KontraS) mendesak pemerintah mengeluarkan kebijakan penghapusan hukuman mati di Indonesia.

Hal itu merupakan salah satu rekomendasi dari Konferensi Nasional 20 Tahun Reformasi: Kejahatan dan Penghukuman di Indonesia yang telah dihelat di Jakarta.

“Pemerintah harus melakukan moratorium hukuman mati sebagai praktik penghukuman kejahatan sebelum menuju kepada penghapusan secara menyeluruh hukuman mati,” kata Wakil Koordinator Bidang Advokasi KontraS, Putri Kanesia di kantor KontraS, Jakarta Pusat, Rabu (9/5).

Putri menilai bahwa proses penghentian hukuman mati di Indonesia harus segera dilaksanakan karena tidak tepat dan bertentangan dengan perundang-undangan yang berlaku.

Ia merinci bahwa hukuman mati bertentangan dengan pasal 281 UUD 1945. Selain itu, hukuman mati juga bertentangan dengan sejumlah peraturan diantaranya Undang-Undang Nomor 39 Tahun 1999 Tentang Hak Asasi Manusia dan Undang-Undang 12 Tahun 2005 Tentang Pengesahan Intemational tentang hak Sipil dan Politik.

“Memang hukuman mati masih sangat pelik dan kerap jadi perdebatan yang menimbulkan pro dan kontra di ranah nasional dan jadi preseden di dunia internasional,” kata dia.

Selain itu, Putri mengatakan bahwa kasus-kasus hukuman mati di Indonesia telah terbukti adanya pelanggaran prosedur hukum dan dugaan unfair trial turut oleh mayoritas terpidana mati.

Ia mencontohkan kasus seperti tak disediakannya penasehat hukum oleh pemerintah untuk membela hak terpidana mati. Selain itu, terdapat kasus praktik penyiksaan terhadap terpidana mati, praktik manipulasi usia dan adanya rekayasa kasus yang menyangkut diskriminasi ras.

“Temuan fakta itu tak pernah dijadikan pertimbangan bagi pemerintah untuk melakukan evaluasi menyeluruh terhadap tuntutan maupun vonis hukuman mati,” ucapnya.

Melihat hal itu, Putri lantas meminta Jokowi untuk melakukan pembenahan dan pengawasan serius terhadap sistem peradilan pidana di Indonesia.

Hal itu bertujuan agar sistem peradilan memenuhi standar peradilan yang adil, tidak memihak dan Imparsial serta mengacu kepada standar HAM internasional yang berlaku universal.

“Kami juga mendesak pemerintah menindak aktor-aktor penegak hukum yang terlibat dalam praktik peradilan yang korup, manipulatif atau sewenang-wenang terhadap kasus hukuman mati di Indonesia,” pintanya.

Tak hanya itu, Putri juga meminta Jokowi dapat memberikan akses bantuan hukum yang layak dan memadai bagi terpidana mati.

Hal itu bertujuan agar meminimalisir potensi terjadinya kembali pelanggaran prosedur hukum maupun dugaan ‘unfair trial’ terhadap narapidana hukuman mati.

“Pemerintah kota garap dapat menjalin kerja sama dan komunikasi dengan berbagai stakeholders seperti keduataan negara asing di indonesia, organisasi advokat mauoin kelonpok masyarakat sipil,” katanya.

Diketahui, penghapusan rekomendasi hukuman mati ini turut didukung oleh elemen masyarakat sipil lainnya seperti Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), Ensemble Contre La Peine De Mort (ECPM), Komnas HAM, Imparsial dan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) Masyarakat. – CNN Indonesia, 10/5/2018

ADPAN – Urgent Appeal call by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders on the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan by Malaysia

See earlier related post:-

MALAYSIA – ADPAN Executive Committee Member, Adilur Rahman Khan, detained by Immigration at KLIA Airport

Malaysia: Arbitrary arrest of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan

20/07/2017
Urgent Appeal

Human Rights Defenders
  • Malaysia

MYS 001 / 0717 / OBS 083
Arbitrary arrest /Harassment
Malaysia

 
July 20, 2017

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.

 

Brief description of the information:

 

The Observatory has been informed with great concern about the arbitrary arrest in Kuala Lumpur of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of the human rights non-governmental organisation [1], also a member of OMCT General Assembly and FIDH Vice-President.

 

According to the information received, on July 20, 2017, at about 4.00 am, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was detained by immigration officers upon his arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. No reason was given for his detention.

 

Mr. Rahman Khan was travelling to Malaysia to attend the National Conference on Death Penalty organised by the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) from July 21 to 22, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

 

The Observatory strongly condemns Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan’s arbitrary arrest, and calls upon the Malaysian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as well as to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity.

 

Actions requested:

 

Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging them to:

 

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, as well as of all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

 

ii. Release Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

 

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

 

iv. Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

 

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

 

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.

 

Addresses:

· Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Fax: +60 3 8888 3444, Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my

· Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs of Malaysia, Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 / +60 3 8889 1610, Email: ahmadzahid@moha.gov.my
 

· Attorney General of Malaysia, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, Fax: +603 8890 5670 Email: pro@agc.gov.my
 

· Tan Sri Razali Bin Ismail, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Fax: +60 3 2612 5620, Email: humanrights@suhakam.org.my;

· H.E. Mr. Amran Mohamed Zin, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01, Email: malgeneva@kln.gov.my

· Embassy of Malaysia in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 762 50 49, Email: malbrussels@kln.gov.my

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Malaysia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Malaysia.

***
Geneva-Paris, July 20, 2017

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.