Singapore – Disclosure of the brutal & unlawful hanging methods in Changi prison – brutal kicks inflicted to snap prisoners’ necks

Press Statement

 

Disclosure of the brutal & unlawful hanging methods in Changi prison – brutal kicks inflicted to snap prisoners’ necks

 

16 January 2020

 

In November last year, we had revealed to the public in this country that brutal and unlawful methods were being used to execute prisoners in Singapore’s notorious Changi prison. This was of importance here, as many Malaysians are on death row in Changi prison, mainly being convicted drug mules.

We had also written to the Singapore authorities and informed them that we are prepared to meet them and handover the evidence in our possession.

However, the Singapore government has met our disclosures with deafening silence. Significantly, they have also not denied our allegation of brutality in carrying out hangings, which has been widely reported.

In the circumstances, we are compelled to disclose some details of the brutal hanging method, in order that the ensuing public scrutiny will bring to an end these methods.

We received this information from a Singapore Prison Services (SPS) officer who had served at the execution chamber in Changi prison, and himself carried out hangings.

This officer is prepared to come forward and testify at the appropriate forum. His evidence follows below:

He and other prison officers were instructed to carry out the following brutal procedure whenever the rope breaks during a hanging, which happens from time to time.

a) The prison officer is instructed to pull the rope around the neck of the prisoner towards him.

b) Meanwhile, another prison officer will apply pressure by pulling the body in the opposite direction.

c) The first officer must then kick the back of the neck of the prisoner with great force in order to break it.

d) The officers are told to kick the back of the neck because that would be consistent with death by hanging.

e) The officers are told not to kick more than 2 times, so that there will be no tell-tale marks in case there is an autopsy.

f) Strict orders are also given not to divulge the above to other prison staff not involved in executions.

We have been informed that prison officers were given special training to carry out the above brutal execution method.

This execution method is unlawful as the mode of execution prescribed by law is hanging by the neck, and not execution by brutal kicking of the neck.

Every death row prisoner in Changi, including the Malaysians, are in danger of suffering this excruciating death, should the rope break during the hanging.

It is particularly disturbing that this is being done surreptitiously, with specific measures adopted to ensure that nothing incriminating is revealed during any subsequent autopsy. This is blatant deception and illegality by the Singapore authorities.

It is in flagrant breach of Article 9 of the Singapore Constitution, the effect of which is to prohibit cruel and unusual punishments.

This could not have been done without the knowledge and approval of the Home Minister and government. Quite clearly, the Republic of Singapore has been knowingly carrying out executions by methods prohibited by both Singapore law, as well as international law.

At this point, we cannot say how many Malaysians or other nationals have been executed in Changi prison by this horrendous method. Only the Singapore government has that information.

We call upon the Singapore Government to consider the following steps:

i) To immediately impose a moratorium on all executions in Singapore pending investigations or a Commission of Inquiry into this matter.

ii) To handover a copy of the findings to Malaysia, many of whose citizens have been executed in Changi or are facing execution.

iii) To reveal the number and identities of Malaysian prisoners who have been executed using this brutal method in Changi.

iv) To agree to compensate families for the unlawful execution of their loved ones.

We further call upon the Malaysian government to take urgent steps to protect the safety and basic rights of all Malaysian prisoners now on death row in Singapore.

Issued by,

N Surendran

Advisor

Lawyers for Liberty

Source: Lawyers For Liberty Website 

Rights group alleges barbaric, unlawful execution methods in Singapore

Surendran has demanded Singapore halt further executions while it addresses these allegations. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Surendran has demanded Singapore halt further executions while it addresses these allegations. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 — Singaporean executors kick and pull on inmates condemned to death by hanging to effectively kill them, Lawyers for Liberty alleged today when warning that Malaysian convicts there were at risk of the cruel punishment.

The rights group representing Malaysians sentenced to die in Singapore further alleged that it has eye-witness testimony from a Singaporean prison official who was willing to testify to this in an “appropriate forum”.

LFL adviser N. Surendran said his group was compelled to release these allegations today after the republic ignored attempts to raise such matters with the country’s officials.

Among others, he said the witness informed LFL that Singapore made its prison officers simultaneously yank on the rope by which condemned inmates are hanged while pulling down on their bodies.

This was compounded by forcibly kicking the back of the inmates’ necks to simulate hanging injuries.

The method is purportedly to ensure the hanging results in a broken spinal cord that would effectively result in death, Surendran said in a statement today that further asserted that such methods were specially taught to Singapore’s prison officials.

“This execution method is unlawful as the mode of execution prescribed by law is hanging by the neck, and not execution by brutal kicking of the neck.

“Every death row prisoner in Changi, including the Malaysians, is in danger of suffering this excruciating death, should the rope break during the hanging,” Surendran said.

Surendran added that executors were also told not to kick more than twice in order to avoid suspicious markings on the condemned inmates’ bodies and ordered not to discuss the alleged methods.

Such techniques were deceptive, unlawful, and in clear violation of Singapore’s constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishments, he said.

The lawyer was also adamant that the alleged execution techniques were known to Singaporean officials including its home minister.

He clarified, however, that LFL did not know for certain how many Malaysians might have experienced such treatment when they were executed in Singapore.

The former Padang Serai MP then demanded Singapore halt further executions while it addresses these allegations and arranges to compensate the families of any who were killed in this alleged fashion.

“We further call upon the Malaysian government to take urgent steps to protect the safety and basic rights of all Malaysian prisoners now on death row in Singapore.”

LFL first alluded to these claims in November, after Singapore proceeded with the execution of Malaysian drug mule Abd Helmi Ab Halim for trafficking 16g of heroin.

Surendran and his group had represented Abd Helmi and clashed repeatedly with Singapore in their bid to prevent the execution.- Malay Mail, 16/1/220

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