Singapore’s execution of drug offenders tripled in five years(Think Centre)

 

 

Press release: Monday, 29 July 2019, Singapore

 

Singapore’s execution of drug offenders tripled in five years

 

Singapore’s execution of drug offenders tripled in past five years compared to previous period before law review

 

Year Drug Murder /
Firearms
 2019 1 0
2018 11 2
2017 8 0
2016 2 2
2015 3 1
2014 2 0
Subtotal 27 5
Year Drug Murder /
Firearms
 2013 / 2012 0 0
2011 2 2
2010 0 0
2009 3 2
2008 2 4
2007 2 1
Subtotal 9 9
Source: Judicial Executions, Ministry of Home Affairs – Singapore Prison Service, accessed from Data.gov.sg

Note: For 2019, figure is derived from public news reporting 

 

 

Think Centre expresses grave concerns over the disturbing trend of executions in Singapore in recent years.

 

Key observations

 

  • Total number of executions from 2014 to 2019 is 32
  • Executions for drug offence stand at 84 percent of the total executions till date since 2014
  • A noticeable spike in execution numbers for drug offence occurred in 2017 and 2018

 

The number of executions (drug) in the past five years (2014-2018) represented a 3 times jump from the previous five year period (2007-2011) before the laws on mandatory death penalty for both drug and murder offences were reviewed in 2012-2013. In terms of total executions, the 2014-2019 period exhibits 1.8 times more executions compared to the 2007-2011 period.

 

It is tragic that Singapore’s amended legislative framework for drug trafficking offences has elicited an increase in the number death sentences carried out. The majority, if not all, of those executed on drug offences since 2014 were due to the failure of the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) to issue a ”Certificate of Cooperation (COC). Absent this certificate, an accused still faces the mandatory death sentence.  Otherwise the judge could exercise the option to pass an alternate sentence of life imprisonment rather than the death penalty.

 

Problematic trend

 

The issue of how and when a COC can be issued is the sole prerogative of the AGC. What is problematic is the trend of those who should rightly be considered socially vulnerable but were executed instead due to their failure to obtain the COC. First, owing to their status as low level couriers, it would be deeply questionable if they were able to provide the level of intelligence that can “disrupt drug trafficking activities”. Second, and even more problematic, is when the cases involved persons who were assessed to have sub or borderline intelligence level, and were found to have played the role of a mere courier.

 

Any of these two factors would significantly reduce the likelihood of the COC being granted. Further aggravating the situation are the statutory presumptions in the Misuse of Drugs Act which shifts the burden on accused persons to produce the necessary evidence to rebut the presumptions. It is therefore not an exaggeration to think that a person may be condemned to die because he has been deemed un-useful, or was limited by his inherent capacity to assist with his own defense at the point of first trial. While not all executions occurred under this unfortunate matrix of factors, but when they do, the outcome is devastating. Such persons are most indubitably victims of cognitive inequality. The case of Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam (alias Naga) is one perturbing example.

 

First arrested in 2009, and originally sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2010, he spent the next eight years fighting for his life. During this arduous period, his first appeal was rejected in 2011. The sentence was delayed when the Misuse of Drugs Act was amended in 2012 and given effect in 2013. In late 2014, on the occasion of the international human rights day, the public prosecutor informed the court that Naga was not eligible for the certificate of cooperation. The next four years were spent on seeking a judicial recourse in challenging this denial, and to appeal for re-sentencing. It emerged between 2013 and 2017, when Naga was referred for a forensic psychiatric evaluation, that medical experts assessed him to possess a borderline range of intelligence. This essentially meant he could rightfully be described as a person with intellectual disability.

 

The Singapore government ratified the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons on 18 July 2013. Since then, some spotted improvement or developments may be observed in the way that the criminal justice system here manages cases of persons with intellectual disabilities coming into conflict with the law. However any improvement remains to be assessed when it comes to death penalty cases. In Naga’s case, the courts have consistently adopted the position that his disability does not square with the meaning or effect of “abnormality of mind” as defined in the MDA.

 

International human rights law has recognised that the death penalty should not be imposed on persons with mental or intellectual disabilities. It also calls for laws and sentencing guidelines to be developed or amended to prohibit the imposition of the death sentence on such persons and their execution. In lieu of such needed developments in Singapore, and with his final judicial appeal for re-sentencing denied earlier on 27 May 2019, Naga’s final recourse lies with petitioning the President for clemency. This however presents another worrying challenge.

 

Blemished clemency process

 

Disturbingly, his chances of success are reasonably cast in doubt, if we observe the case of P. Pannir Selvam. Pannir was arrested in September 2014 and convicted in 2017 for trafficking 51.84g of diamorphine. Like Naga, he was denied the certificate of assistance by the public prosecutor despite the best efforts by him and his family who worked hard to provide information to the Singapore authorities.

 

His clemency petition to the President was rejected earlier in May this year on the advice of the Singapore Cabinet. The troubling aspect stemmed from the manner such grave news was communicated to his family. They received both letters dated on the same day – 17 May – from the President’s office informing of the clemency denial, and the letter from the Singapore Prison Services informing of his scheduled execution on 24 May.

 

Pannir narrowly gained a reprieve when the court granted a rare leave for him to challenge his execution based on this troubling circumstance. This sliver of hope is overshadowed by the disturbing revelation that as many as 13 clemency petitions have already been rejected by the President, as shared by Mr. N. Surendran the legal adviser to Malaysia based Lawyers for Liberty. It is a sombre fact that Singapore has not seen any clemency granted for the past twenty years since 1998.

 

Keen observers of the death penalty’s application in Singapore will know that the weight of granting clemency derives from the Cabinet’s prerogative. In a 2003 BBC interview, the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong infamously said, “Each execution comes to the Cabinet and we look at it. If we decide that a certain person has got to be executed, he is executed.”

 

To date, we have yet to witness any evidence that would suggest the President possess the powers to decide independently from the Cabinet’s advice.

 

Think Centre reiterates our longstanding belief that the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We oppose the use of capital punishment in all circumstances, and especially the mandatory death penalty for non-violent crimes in the case of drugs offences. It has no place in any society that wants to pride itself as being modern, developed and civilised. The death penalty in Singapore today is an anachronistic and incongruous practice; it should only be as fashionable as the ongoing bicentennial commemoration – not to be celebrated, but to be remembered only as a part of history.

 

* Think Centre is a member of ADPAN

Malaysian Pannir Selvam to hang in Singapore on 24/5/2019 unless..

Malaysian Pannir Selvam to hang in Singapore on 24/5/2019 unless..
The Court of Appeal grants a stay of execution..
OR
Singapore government responds to Malaysian government’s pleas to save a life ..

AGAIN – Date of execution disclosed at the ‘last minute’ – “…In a press statement today Pannir’s sister, P. Sangkari said the notice of execution which they received last week came as a “shock” since it was dated on the same day that Halimah had refused Pannir any clemency.

 

Why Death Penalty – since those who assist authorities should reasonably no longer be sentenced to death?

“…highlighted that Pannir had aided the Singapore authorities by providing critical information about one Anand, believed to be the mastermind who had duped Pannir into carrying a package containing drugs to Singapore.
However, he claimed the Singapore public prosecutor unreasonably denied the certificate of assistance to Pannir that would have enabled the court to sentence the Malaysian to life imprisonment instead of death…”
Remember, without the Public Prosecutor’s Certificate of Assistance, judges in Singapore has no discretion but to sentence to death…

Saifuddin: Govt looking for ways to help Malaysian scheduled to hang in Singapore for drug trafficking


Nation
Tuesday, 21 May 2019 10:03 PM MYT

KLUANG (Bernama): The government is seeking ways to help a Malaysian who is scheduled to be hanged in Singapore on Friday (May 24) for drug trafficking, says Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong was making the efforts to try and save Pannir Selvam Pranthaman from the hangman’s noose.

“Just now I discussed it with Liew and he is working on behalf of Putrajaya to try and convince the Singapore government to spare him the death penalty,” he told reporters at a Ramadan programme in Kampung Tengah here Tuesday (May 21).

He was asked to comment on an appeal by Pannir’s family seeking the government’s intervention because Pannir had allegedly not been given enough opportunity to apply for clemency under the republic’s laws.

Saifuddin said in similar cases in the past, the government had also taken the same approach of trying to get a lighter sentence for those sentenced to death.

This is in line with Malaysia’s move to place a moratorium on the mandatory death sentence.

Asked how Putrajaya could resolve the issue of allegedly short notice for carrying out the death sentence, he said there was nothing much the Malaysian government could do.

“This is the way Singapore administers its law. There is not much room for us to complain but normally what we do is we will try our best to help our people,” he said.

Tuesday, Pannir’s family, through human rights group Lawyers for Liberty, turned to Putrajaya as their last hope to save him from the death penalty.

This followed their unsuccessful attempts to save Pannir, which included sending the final appeal to Singapore President Halimah Yacob.

Pannir, 32, was convicted of the offence by the Singapore High Court on June 27, 2017. – Bernama – Star, 21/5/2019

 

S’pore court to hear M’sian’s application for stay of execution

Bernama  |  Published:

 

The Singapore Court of Appeal will hear tomorrow the application by Malaysian P Pannir Selvam to stay his execution scheduled for Friday, May 24.

“This application was filed by Pannir himself from prison,” Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran said in a statement today.

Pannir had also submitted a final appeal for clemency to Singapore President Halimah Yacob.

He was convicted on June 27, 2017 by the Singapore High Court of trafficking 51.84g of diamorphine at Woodlands Checkpoint on Sept 3, 2014.

Drug mule’s family make final appeal to Singapore president, urge Putrajaya to intervene

P. Pannir Selvam is due to be executed in Singapore on Friday. — AFP pic
P. Pannir Selvam is due to be executed in Singapore on Friday. — AFP pic
KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — The family of P. Pannir Selvam, a Malaysian convict who is facing the hangman’s noose in three days in Singapore, have made a last-ditch appeal to the island nation’s president Halimah Yacob and the Malaysian government to intervene.
In a press statement today Pannir’s sister, P. Sangkari said the notice of execution which they received last week came as a “shock” since it was dated on the same day that Halimah had refused Pannir any clemency.
Pannir, 32 was convicted on June 27, 2017 by the Singapore High Court of allegedly trafficking in 51.84g of diamorphine at the Woodlands Checkpoint on September 3, 2014 despite consistently pleading innocence.
“We know that in the New Malaysia, our government no longer approves of the death sentence for drug trafficking.
“The Malaysian government is Pannir and our family’s last hope. We implore the Malaysian government to communicate and urge the Singapore government to halt Friday’s execution. Please give Pannir and our family a second chance,” she said.
Lawyers for Liberty adviser N. Surendran had asserted previously that there were several irregularities in the Singapore legal process that will see the Malaysian hanged to death this Friday even though the latter has strong grounds to obtain clemency.
“Once again, Singapore is planning to execute a mere drug mule, while the drug kingpins continue to ply their trade with impunity.
“More disturbingly, Pannir’s final recourse of a clemency petition to the president of Singapore has been tainted with illegality and unlawful acts by the Singapore authorities,” Surendran said.
The former lawmaker highlighted that Pannir had aided the Singapore authorities by providing critical information about one Anand, believed to be the mastermind who had duped Pannir into carrying a package containing drugs to Singapore.
However, he claimed the Singapore public prosecutor unreasonably denied the certificate of assistance to Pannir that would have enabled the court to sentence the Malaysian to life imprisonment instead of death. – Malay Mail, 21/5/2019

Singapore, Stop Execution of Malaysian Prabu N Pathmanathan

The family of 31-year-old Malaysian Prabu N Pathmanathan were informed last week he would be executed on Friday..Prabu, 31, had been sentenced to death for committing several acts preparatory to and for the purposes of trafficking in 227.82g of diamorphine or heroin into the island state on Dec 31, 2014.

Law Minister to appeal to S’pore to commute Malaysian’s death sentence

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Liew Vui Keong will write a letter to the Singapore government to urge it to commute the death sentence of a Malaysian man who is scheduled to be executed on Friday (Oct 26).

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said he hoped that Singapore would commute Prabu Pathmanathan’s sentence to life imprisonment.

Prabu, 31, had been sentenced to death for committing several acts preparatory to and for the purposes of trafficking in 227.82g of diamorphine or heroin into the island state on Dec 31, 2014.

“It will be a sad day. I hope they don’t do it,” he told reporters on Wednesday (Oct 24) when asked what would happen if Singapore went ahead with the execution.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lawyers for Liberty advisor N. Surendran urged Putrajaya to make “urgent and strenuous” efforts to save Prabu from the gallows.

Surendran said Prabu’s family had been informed that the execution would be held at Changi Prison on Friday for alleged drug trafficking.

“The family was only informed of the Friday hanging on Oct 20 via a letter from the Singapore Prison Services, which is less than one week’s notice.

“In the same chilling letter, the family was asked to make the ‘necessary funeral arrangements’,” Surendran said.

 

According to Surendran, there were doubts surrounding Prabu’s conviction, adding that the drugs was found in a vehicle driven by another person, and not Prabu.

He also claimed that the confessions obtained from Prabu by the prosecution for the trial were made under duress.

The Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign also called for the Singapore government to halt the execution of Prabu.

“Not only is it irreversible once an execution takes place, it also creates another set of victims – the loved ones of the executed,” it said in a statement.

On Oct 15, Liew had announced that the Malaysian government would go ahead with plans to completely abolish the death penalty in this country. – Star, 24/10/2018

Human rights groups urge Singapore to halt imminent executions

City-state expected to execute two men, including a Malaysian, following convictions for drug offences.

View through a vehicle window shows cell blocks inside Singapore's Changi Prison [Vivek Prakash/Reuters]
View through a vehicle window shows cell blocks inside Singapore’s Changi Prison [Vivek Prakash/Reuters]

Singapore is being urged to halt the planned execution on Friday of two men convicted of drug-related offences amid reports four people were hanged in the city-state in the past three weeks.

The family of 31-year-old Malaysian Prabu N Pathmanathan were informed last week he would be executed on Friday, human rights groups said. Another man is also scheduled to hang but has not been named.

“Singapore authorities must immediately halt plans to kill these men and put a stop to this recent wave of callous executions,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher, said in a statement.

Singapore reportedly hanged a man on Wednesday and three others on October 5 also for drug-related offences, the group said.

Lawyers for Liberty, a Kuala Lumpur-based legal firm that specialises in human rights cases, urged the Malaysian government to intervene to stop the hanging.

Executions are usually carried out at dawn at Changi Prison.

“The death penalty is cruel and inhuman and particularly so when used in drugs cases, which results in the execution of drug mules from poor socio-economic backgrounds,” the firm’s N Surendran said in a statement.

‘Barbarity’

Admitting time was “running out”, Surendran and Prabu’s mother and sister delivered an appeal for clemency to Singapore’s president, Halimah Yacob, on Thursday.

“Malaysia has recognised the barbarity of the death penalty and has recently announced its total abolition. Having taken that position, the Malaysian government must do everything possible to save citizens abroad who are facing execution,” it said.

Malaysia’s government that was elected in May has suspended executions and announced its intention to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said he would write to the Singapore government to request Prabu’s death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, local media reported on Thursday. Prabu was sentenced to death in relation to the trafficking of 228kg of heroin into the island state at the end of 2014.

“It is time for Singapore to re-establish its moratorium on the death penalty and follow the government of Malaysia’s example,” Amnesty’s Chhoa-Howard said.

Amnesty said it believes Singapore has carried out six executions this year, all in relation to drug-offences. It said there were eight executions last year. Singapore does not publicly disclose information about its use of the death penalty.

Capital punishment was imposed or implemented for drug-related offences in 15 countries last year, but executions for such crimes were recorded in only four – China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

One-hundred and six countries across the world have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. – Al Jazeera, 25/10/2018