Massive leap backwards as Singapore resumes executions

PRESS RELEASE

 18 July 2014  

Singapore has taken a reprehensible U-turn by executing the first two prisoners since 2011, Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) said today.

Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, were executed today at Singapore’s Changi  Prison Complex. They had been convicted and mandatorily sentenced to death for drug-related offences in January and April 2011 respectively under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“The executions by hanging of Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng represent a massive leap backwards for human rights in Singapore,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher.

“It is extremely disappointing that the authorities have taken a U-turn on a moratorium on executions and did not build on their clean record of no executions over the past two years to push for more reforms in the country.”

Non-lethal crimes such as drugs offences do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty may be imposed under international law. On 14 November 2012, Singapore’s Parliament adopted amendments to abolish the mandatory imposition of the death penalty under certain circumstances in murder and drug trafficking cases. At least nine people had their death sentences reviewed and eventually commuted to life imprisonment and caning since the laws were amended. The Singapore government said that the two men executed today waived their right to a review of their mandatory death sentence, which they were entitled to after legislation was amended.

“The executions took place despite an appeal to challenge the validity of section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which could have ultimately spared the lives of prisoners on death row like Tai Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng who were mandatorily sentenced under this law.  We condemn the use of the death penalty as it deprived these men of their right to life,” said Ngeow Chow Ying, ADPAN Secretary.

At least 26 people remained on death row in Singapore at the end of 2013.

With today’s resumption of executions, Singapore is setting itself against the global trend ending the use of the capital punishment, more than two-thirds of all countries having abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

In the Asia-Pacific region, 17 out of 41 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 are abolitionist in practice and one – Fiji – uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes.

 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

  • Amnesty International’s press office: +44 207 413 5566, press@amnesty.org
  • Nalini Elumalai, ADPAN coordinator, contactadpan@gmail.com

Amnesty International and ADPAN PR on Singapore 18 July

Executions have resumed in Singapore on 18 July 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : 18 JULY 2014

 

The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty deeply regrets, and is gravely disappointed at the executions of two individuals that took place today, 18th of July 2014. Inmates Foong Chee Peng, 48, and Tang Hai Liang, 36, were hanged at dawn this morning. Both men were convicted of drug trafficking.

 

These two executions bring to an end the moratorium that has been in place since July 2011, when the government commenced an internal review of the mandatory death penalty laws. This review took place without any public consultation nor has it been made available for public scrutiny. Subsequently, the changes were passed by Parliament in the exact form proposed by the government in July 2012, despite various warnings about their potential problems.

 

We also wish to highlight that there is an ongoing application filed by another drug offender before the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act because it violates Article 12 of our Constitution. The hearing is fixed before the Court of Appeal on the 18th of August later this year.

 

Given the fact that the constitutional challenge to the amendments could have a potential bearing on the lawfulness of Foong and Tang’s executions, it was deeply unjust to have executed them before the constitutional challenge was decided.

 

The injustice is compounded by the fact that we had written to the President and the Minister of Home Affairs yesterday to highlight this situation and urged for an urgent stay of execution until our courts have decided on this constitutional challenge at the very least.

 

Finally, the executions are a regrettable step backwards for Singapore. The death penalty has not been proven to be a more useful deterrent against crime than alternative forms of punishment. Moreover, once carried out, miscarriages of justice cannot be remedied.

 

We therefore reiterate our calls for the government to impose a moratorium on all executions and move towards the abolition of capital punishment in Singapore.

 

We believe in Second Chances

Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign

Think Center Singapore
– END-

 

Below is an email sent by  the Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty to the President at 8.30 pm, Thursday, 17th of July 2014, urging the President to exercise his powers to stay the executions of the death row inmates:

 

Your Excellency,

 

We are a coalition of local non-governmental organizations that work closely with the families of death row inmates and advocate against capital punishment in Singapore.

 

We have been just informed from various sources that there are two death row inmates condemned to death arising from drug trafficking who will be executed tomorrow morning at 6am. We wish to highlight to your excellency that there is an application before the court (criminal motion 40/2014) that seeks to challenge the validity of section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act – that it violates Article 12 of the Constitution. The hearing is fixed before the Court of Appeal on 18th August at 10am.

 

In light of the above constitutional challenge which will have a bearing on the lawfulness of the impending executions tomorrow, we strongly urge your excellency to stay their executions pending the outcome of the above application, failing which the two executions scheduled will be deemed unlawful.

 

We would appreciate if you could respond to us, concerned citizens, on an urgent basis as we wait with anxiety for your confirmation that you will stay the execution.

 

 

Yours Sincerely,

1)We believe in second chances

2)Singapore Anti Death Penalty

3)Think Center

 

SWGDP – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 18 July 2014

INDONESIA – ADPAN condemns the secret execution of Muhammad Abdul Hafeez – the fifth execution this year

ADPAN condemns the execution of Muhammad Abdul Hafeez, a 44-year-old Pakistani national on 17 November.  The execution was carried out in secret bringing the number of executions carried out this year to five. Reports indicate that neither family members nor legal representatives were informed in advance of these executions.

Muhammas Abdul Hafeez was arrested at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on 26 June 2001 for allegedly smuggling 900 grams of heroin into Indonesia and sentenced to death on 28 November 2001.

After four years, executions resumed in Indonesia in 2012. This resumption is a regressive step at a time when the world is turning away from executions. There are fears that another five may be at imminent risk of execution.

At least 130 people are under sentence of death in Indonesia.

ADPAN has on-going concerns around unfair trials in capital cases in Indonesia.  The execution of drug offenders breaches international law which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the “most serious crimes”. Any execution of a foreign national also goes against the Indonesian government’s effort to seek clemency for its own nationals sentenced to death in other countries.

ADPAN works to end death penalty across Asia-Pacific and has members in 28 countries mainly from Asia including Indonesia.

ADPAN calls the Indonesia government to stop all further executions, to introduce a moratorium and pending abolition, to ensure full compliance with international legal standards restricting the use of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes”.

ADPAN Member organizations in Indonesia:

  • Imparsial
  • Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
  • Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat (LBH Masyarakat)

PAKISTAN – ADPAN appeals for a stay of executions

On 18 August, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a stay of execution until a meeting has been held with President Asif Ali Zardari who opposes the death penalty.

At least eight people were scheduled to be executed between 20 and 25 August in Sindh  and Punjab provinces: Attaullah alias Qasim, Muhammad Azam alias Sharif and Jalal alias Abdul Jalil (Sukkur Jail), Behram Khan and Shafqat Hussain (Karachi Central Prison) and Muhammad Munic Hussain (Vehari Jail), Zulfiqar Ali Khan, (Kot Lakhpat Jail)  and Mohammad Ameen.

All were convicted of a variety of crimes including murder and kidnapping.  Shafqat Hussain and Mohammad Ameen were juveniles at the time of the offence. Pakistan is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which prohibits the death penalty for offences committed by those under 18 years of age.

Unfair trials are routine:  courts consider statements extracted through torture, and inadequate access to legal counsel is commonplace. Court appointed lawyers are poorly paid and inexperienced. Many are denied a right to appeal. Some are tried by special courts presided over by the military rather than an independent judiciary, as was the case with a soldier executed in 2012, the most recent exercise of the death penalty in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently announced he would resume executions to improve the law and order situation in the country, only to abruptly announce a halt in planned executions on Sunday 18 August.

ADPAN acknowledges the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences. But the death penalty will not give justice to victims of crimes and human rights abuses. The death penalty does not address fundamental problems in law enforcement, and in the justice system and there is no evidence that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.

More than 8,000 prisoners are under sentence of death. If executions resume, 450 of these are reportedly in imminent danger of execution.

ADPAN members in Pakistan and many NGOs  and civil society groups support the moratorium and are working to stop these executions.

ADPAN is appealing to the Pakistan authorities to halt all executions and institute a formal moratorium on the death penalty.  ADPAN opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

ADPAN members:

  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  • Justice Project Pakistan (JPP)
  • Prison Fellowship Pakistan (PFP)
  • Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)
  • Amnesty International (AI)

INDIA – DEVENDER PAL SINGH BHULLAR

Update on Unfair Trials Case

In August 2001, Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death by a special court, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) for his involvement in a bomb attack in New Delhi in 1963 killing nine people. This Act contained provisions which are incompatible with international fair trial standards: he had no lawyer during his pre-trial detention and trial and was convicted on the basis of a “confession” to the police which he later retracted. In March 2002 the Supreme Court upheld his sentence though one of the three judges found him not guilty noting there was no evidence to convict him.

Devender Pal Singh Bhullar filed a mercy petition which was rejected in May 2011 eight years after the request was filed. This decision was challenged by the Supreme Court which included the grounds of inordinate delay in considering his mercy petition. On 12 April the Supreme Court rejected his mercy plea in a judgement that ignored claims he had been subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. A review petition of this judgment was dismissed on 14 August 2013.

Devender Pal Singh has been suffering from severe depression and shows symptoms of psychosis and has suicidal tendencies.

International fair trial standards prohibit the death penalty against people with mental disabilities.

Appeal to the Prime Minister to:

  • Stop the execution of Devender Pal Singh
  • Re-try Devender Pal Singh in judicial proceedings that meet international fair trial standards.
  • Investigate complaints of torture and other ill-treatment and concerns around his mental health
  • Halt all further executions, commute all death sentences and establish a moratorium on executions.

Write to:

Prime Minister

South Block, Raisin Hill

New Delhi 110 001

INDIA

See: ADPAN Unfair Trials reports

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