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)