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Death Penalty

This boy will be hanged soon by the Singapore government

The first part of this post is from the facebook event page for World Day Against the Death Penalty (Singapore): Forum & campaign to save the life of Yong Vui Kong. Followed by a synopsis from a book published in 2005 titled Hung at Dawn by M. Ravi. Lastly, a news article from 2005.

SADPC Oct 10 forum

Forum speakers

M. Ravi, Human Rights lawyer
Alex Au, Yawning Bread {Jacob 69er: Read Performing law}
Sinapan Samydorai, Think Centre {Jacob 69er: Read Human Rights Watch Series: Death Penalty in Singapore}
Breama Mathi, Maruah
Agnes Chia, Social worker
Moderated by local artist Alfian Saat

Campaign to save the life of Yong Vui Kong

As the World Day against Death Penalty approaches on 10th October 2009, we the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign call upon the Singapore government to join 138 states throughout the world that have ceased executions in law or practice.

We mark this day by campaigning for the clemency of Yong Vui Kong, 21,a Malaysian who had been sentenced to death as a result of drug trafficking. He was 19 when he was caught for drug trafficking in June 2007.

Singapore is estimated to have one of the highest per capita executions rates in the world.Most death sentences in Singapore follow convictions for drug trafficking. The Misuse of Drugs Act provides at least 20 different offences and contains a series of presumptions which shift the burden of proof from the Prosecution to the Defence. The UN Rights Committee have concluded that the death penalty for drug offences fails to meet the condition of “most serious crime”.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions has called for the death penalty to be eliminated for drug-related offences and has argued that the mandatory nature of the sentence is a violation of international legal standards.

There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters serious crimes in general more effectively than other punishments. The most recent survey of research findings on the relation between the death penalty and homicide rates, conducted for the United Nations (UN) in 1988 and updated in 1996 and 2002, concluded: “…research has failed to provide the scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment. Such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming. The evidence as a whole gives no positive support to the deterrent hypothesis.”

Yong Vui Kong is a case of a youth who had fallen into the snare of drug trafficking against the backdrop of his vulnerable circumstances. His parents were divorced when he was 10 and had to stop education as he comes from a poor family. His mother suffers from depression and is still kept in the dark about her son’s impending execution. His clemency petition had been submitted to the President a month ago.

We ask that the Ministry of Home Affairs provide annual statistics of executions in Singapore which is part of public information as acknowledged by the Minister of Law recently.

Please join us on 10 October 2009 at 2.30 pm, Oxford Hotel, to mark the World Day against Death Penalty in Singapore and say no to the execution of Yong Vui Kong by signing a petition to the President. This is one of the ways to tell the state that it does not have your mandate to go ahead with its planned execution of Yong Vui Kong which is done on behalf of the people.

In peace,
M. Ravi
Convenor of Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
mravilaw1@gmail.com

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Hung at Dawn book cover

On what first seemed like just another day, a young Malaysian commuter-worker was arrested in Singapore in September 2001, a nation which has the highest per capita execution in the world (according to 2004 report by Amnesty International). The charge: drug-dealing. He had just handed an undercover narcotics agent a small bag packed with 27.65g of heroin and received $8,000 in return. But was he really a drug-dealer? The young man swore his innocence, insisting that he was only doing a favor for an old family friend, who had asked him to pass along some religious incense to an associate and collect some money from him.

From there, the young man went on a rapid plunge downward through the dark hole of a system he had little understanding of. He found himself facing a mandatory death penalty for dealing drugs and was dragged quickly through the few stages the Singapore justice system allows between arrest and execution: trial, the single appeal, and the clemency plea to the president – all to no avail.

The story might have ended right there for this young man, as it has for so many others found guilty of capital crimes in Singapore. It would have if not for a veteran human rights activist and a young lawyer who took up the cause and brought the young Malaysian’s fight into legal areas never before dared in this tightly regulated city-state.

Hung At Dawn is the true story of the desperate fight to save this young man from a possible miscarriage of justice, veering around and leaping over all the roadblocks the legal system here sets up. It also tells the story of a second, even more well-known case the young lawyer fought in defence of a convicted drug-dealer two years later. This tale, also true in every detail, involves a charismatic figure who had risen from grinding poverty to become a kind of national hero in Singapore (having won a medal in the Jet-Ski World Championship), only to fall when personal problems led him to start using and dealing in soft drugs. Caught at a border crossing, this former hero was sentenced to die for possession of just over 1 kilo of cannabis!

The latter part of Hung At Dawn looks at the unprecedented campaign which Guardian described as a “high profile campaign” in their report entitled “Singapore finally finds a voice in death row protest”. To save this man’s life, a campaign that stretched beyond the courts into the streets to engage the general Singapore public and brought together a wide coalition of people galvanized by this particular case and the wider struggle to bring Singapore’s drug laws more into line with international humane standards.

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End mandatory hanging, says lawyer
Jake Lloyd-Smith in Singapore for AAP
22 Nov 2005

SINGAPORE should abandon its use of the mandatory death penalty, one of the city-state’s top criminal defence lawyers said today.

Speaking ahead of next week’s scheduled execution of Australian drug trafficker Van Tuong Nguyen, Subhas Anandan said if Singapore’s courts had more discretion, the Melbourne man may have avoided death row.

“I am not opposed to the death sentence, but I am not in favour of the mandatory death sentence,” Mr Subhas said.

Mr Subhas has handled more than 50 capital cases in Singapore in the past 35 years, and is regarded as one of the country’s leading legal professionals.

Nguyen, 25, is set to be hanged at dawn on Friday December 2 after being caught with 396g of heroin while in transit at Changi Airport in 2002.

Singapore law mandates that those caught with more than 15g of heroin are deemed traffickers.

A judge must sentence someone to death if they are found guilty of trafficking.

Nguyen was convicted, lost his appeal and has now had all bids for clemency rejected by the Singapore authorities, including repeated appeals from the Australian Government.

Mr Subhas said it was essential that judges in Singapore be allowed to weigh the circumstances of each case when deciding an appropriate sentence.

The judge has to be able “to look at the circumstances in which things have been done,” Mr Subhas said.

“Sometimes the reasons vary, so I think that the judge should be given the discretion whether to impose the death sentence or not,” he said.

The comments put him at odds with the Singapore Government, which has consistently argued that compulsory use of the gallows is a vital part of its criminal justice system.

“Even in drug cases, there are cases where there are 15g, 20g, 1kg,” Mr Subhas said.

“I am not saying that he (Nguyen) doesn’t deserve the death sentence.

“I am saying that if judges are given the discretion he – along with many others – may not have got the death sentence.”

Amid the mounting anger in Australia about Nguyen’s likely fate, the use of mandatory death sentencing has also drawn fire from the United Nations.

Philip Alston, a Geneva-based Australian who monitors the death penalty for the world body, said last week that a black-and-white approach is entirely inappropriate where the life of the accused is at stake.

Mr Subhas is well known for his defence work.

One tabloid dubbed him “public defender number one” for his high profile work.

Singapore also imposes the mandatory death sentence for murder, certain firearms offences and kidnapping.

Amnesty International has said the country probably executes more people relative to its size that any other state worldwide.

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “This boy will be hanged soon by the Singapore government

  1. I support Singapore’s move!

    While you want to save 1 boy’s life..
    do you know how many lives will be destroyed if this boy did not get caught and was allowed to do this trafficking for even just a few times?

    Posted by nicknick | October 2, 2009, 16:57

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: {Videos} Do not kill in my name! « Jacob 69er - October 26, 2009

  2. Pingback: Petition for clemency of Yong Vui Kong denied « Jacob 69er - November 30, 2009

  3. Pingback: Videos of forum on death penalty in Singapore « Jacob 69er - August 4, 2010

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