ABOLISHING THE DEATH PENALTY & EXTRADITE SIRUL

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 21 May 2018

SUARAM has been calling for the abolition of the death penalty ever since we have existed. There is no better time for our country to abolish the death penalty than the present predicament we face in trying to extradite Sirul, one of the convicted murderers of Altantuya from Australia. Since the Australian government cannot bring itself to return someone to Malaysia where he will be facing the death penalty, the just and reasonable thing to do is to do away with the death penalty once and for all. In so doing, we can ensure that this other convicted killer of Altantuya faces justice in our country.

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On the Execution of Kho Jabing

For Immediate Release
20th May 2016

On the Execution of Kho Jabing

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) strongly condemns the execution of Kho Jabing by the Government of Singapore on the 20th May 2016.

Despite the unanswered concerns regarding the impartiality of the appeal proceeding, the Government of Singapore have refused to answer the public plea for clemency and unconscionably carried out the sentence at 3.30PM after the dismissal of Kho Jabing’s appeal on the morning of 20th May 2016.

The concerns that Kho Jabing’s right to fair trial was violated was affirmed when Justice of Appeal, Andrew Phang failed to recuse himself and sat as part of the coram of judges who heard his motion on the 19th May 2016. SUARAM would like to reiterate the importance of an impartial tribunal especially in cases involving the use of capital punishment and remind the Government of Singapore the importance of the notion that justice need not only be done, but seen to be done. The failure to ensure justice had been done in this case would forevermore tarnish Singapore’s ability to provide a fair trial for those seeking justice in its legal system.

Further, the doubt as to whether Kho Jabing the prosecution had adequately proved the necessary mens rea for Kho Jabing’s act to tantamount to murder expressed by some of the presiding judges during the trial should have been taken into account during the sentencing. Despite the existing doubts, the death sentence was still imposed on Kho Jabing. The failure to account for this clearly violates the recognized international norms where capital punishment can only be imposed when the crime meets the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’.

In light of these concerns, the refusal to provide for a stay of execution and the apathy shown by Government of Singapore in regards to the plea for clemency by the family and members of the public can only be described as callous and unconscionable to say the least.

The death penalty does not provide justice and in this case it has caused a great injustice to the family of the deceased. This execution also marks Singapore departure from the norms of developed states where the use of capital punishment has been gradually phased out. The insistence that capital punishment remain a facet of its criminal justice system clearly show its disinclination to join the rank of developed country in regards to its recognition of human rights. SUARAM reiterate our stance that the use of capital punishment must be abolished and call upon governments which still endorses the use of capital punishment to re-examine the use of capital punishment and instate a moratorium on it immediately!

In Solidarity,
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Malaysian faces execution in Singapore: calling for Clemency for Kho Jabing

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CLEMENCY APPEAL FOR KHO JABING
Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Malaysian faces execution in Singapore: calling for Clemency for Kho Jabing

Roughly half a year ago, civil societies in Malaysia and Singapore came together to appeal for clemency for Kho Jabing, a Sarawakian on death row in the island state who was recently rescheduled for execution.

On the 13th May 2016, the family was notified that Kho Jabing will be executed on the 20th May 2016. This came as a shock to the family and activists who have campaigned for Kho Jabing’s clemency. Kho Jabing was convicted of murder and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty on 30 July 2010. However, after the 2012 review of the mandatory death penalty laws, on 14 August 2013 the High Court resentenced Kho Jabing to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane. On 14 January 2015, the Court of Appeal re-imposed the death penalty on Kho Jabing in a three-to-two split decision. A last minute appeal admitted on 3 November, three days before his scheduled execution, was dismissed on 5 April 2016.

Kho Jabing and his family have already endured the distress of facing an imminent execution and we are urging the authorities of Malaysia to leave no stone unturned and do their utmost best to advocate with their Singaporean conterparts to spare them further suffering..

In light of these information and the concerns raised last year, we implore the President of Singapore to give due consideration to the aforementioned issues relating to Kho Jabing’s case and grant clemency for Kho Jabing. At the very least, the scheduled execution should be set aside pending the appeal that Kho Jabing’s lawyer intend to submit.

Once again, we implore those in power to take swift action and ensure that this injustice is put to an end. Failure to take swift action to safeguard Kho Jabing’s right would only bring about more unnecessary grief to the family and needless taint on Singapore’s human rights records.

CONTACTS:

Amnesty International Malaysia

D-2-33A, 8 Avenue
Jalan Sungai Jernih 8/1, Section 8
46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan
T: +603 7955 2680
F: +603 7955 2682
W: amnesty.my
E: [email protected]
Twitter: amnestymy

Civil Rights Committee, KLSCAH

No 1, Jalan Maharajalela
50150 Kuala Lumpur
T: +603 2274 6645
F: +603 2272 4089
W: klscah.org.my

SUARAM

433A, Jalan 5/46, Jalan Gasing Indah
46000 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan
T: +603 – 7784 3525
F: +603 – 7784 3526
E: [email protected]
Twitter: SUARAM Tweets

Urgent Action: Halt the execution of Kho Jabing

Urgent Action: Halt the execution of Kho Jabing

We, the undersigned, are troubled by the imminent execution of Kho Jabing in Singapore, despite strong concerns over the development of his case. We believe there are strong grounds for President Tony Tan of the Republic of Singapore to grant clemency in this case.

The family of Sarawakian Kho Jabing, 31, received a letter from the Singapore Prison Service on 12 May 2016 informing them that his execution had been scheduled for 20 May 2016. Kho Jabing was convicted of murder in 2011.

The announcement came as a shock to the family and all involved in campaigning for Kho Jabing. We had been under the impression that the authorities would allow his lawyer to submit a fresh clemency appeal on his behalf after the criminal motion filed in late 2015 was dismissed in April this year. His lawyer had sent President Tony Tan a holding letter informing them of his intention to file a new clemency petition, and had been in the process of drafting it when the execution was scheduled.

On 13 May 2016, Kho Jabing’s lawyer received a letter from the President saying that he would be willing to consider a clemency petition if it is filed, but will not be postponing the scheduled execution. Considering that past practice shows that the President usually takes three months before any decision regarding clemency is announced, we are concerned that this current state of affairs will leave the Cabinet and the President with insufficient time to properly consider a fresh plea from Kho Jabing.

The course of Kho Jabing’s case has been tumultuous and traumatic. Due to amendments made to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty regime and appeals lodged by the prosecution, Jabing had, over the years, been sentenced to death, then life imprisonment (with caning), then death again. This back-and-forth has taken a horrific toll not just on Kho Jabing as the inmate, but his family.

Furthermore, one High Court judge and two Judges of Appeal had not believed that the death penalty was an appropriate punishment for Kho Jabing, as they felt that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that he had exhibited a “blatant disregard for human life”. (See Annex A, attached at the end of this statement, for relevant excerpts of the judges’ ruling.)

The death penalty does not simply exact an irreversible punishment, but also imposes emotional and psychological tolls on both the inmate and the family and we oppose it unconditionally. Having been re-sentenced twice, from death to life and back again, Kho Jabing and his family have already been put through a deeply painful process. The knowledge that three respected and honourable judges hold the belief that the current punishment does not fit the crime simply makes the situation doubly hard to bear.

Kho Jabing’s case presents very strong and persuasive grounds for clemency, and that his death sentence should be immediately be set aside and commuted to life imprisonment as allowed by Singapore’s Constitution.

We therefore urge the Cabinet of Singapore to advise President Tony Tan to grant clemency to Kho Jabing without delay and re-establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards the abolition of the death penalty.

UPDATE 16th May 2016
It has come to our attention that the President, while acknowledging Kho Jabing’s intention to file a fresh clemency petition, has taken the position that his decision to reject the previous clemency petition in October 2015 still stands. It is unclear if he will consider the new clemency petition once it is filed.
The death penalty is an irreversible punishment. A life once taken, cannot be returned. The fact that one High Court judge and two Judges of Appeal have expressed the opinion that the death penalty is not an appropriate punishment for Kho Jabing shows that there continues to be doubt a death sentence is justified in this case. It is on these grounds that we urge the President to grant clemency to Kho Jabing, and commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.
It is of utmost importance that this case not be rushed, and that the forthcoming clemency plea be given due deliberation. We call on the President of the Republic of Singapore to stay the execution scheduled for 20 May 2016 so as to allow a reasonable time for the consideration of Kho Jabing’s fresh clemency petition.

ANNEX A
Comments from judges on Kho Jabing’s case

Justice Tay Yong Kwang, High Court, 2013:
“​After considering all the factors put forward by the parties, I am of the view that the death penalty is not the appropriate sentence for the convicted person for the following reasons:

(a) He was relatively young at 24 at the time of the offence in 2008…

(b) The convicted person’s choice and use of the piece of wood during the attack were, in the words of the Court of Appeal, “opportunistic and improvisational” and not part of a pre­arranged plan. Equally so was Galing’s use of his belt as a weapon;

(c) There was no clear sequence of events concerning the attack. There was no clear evidence that the convicted person went after the deceased from behind without warning and started hitting him on the head with the piece of wood. There was evidence that a struggle could have taken place first between Galing and the deceased before the convicted person stopped chasing Wu Jun and returned to assault the deceased.”

Justice Lee Seiu Kin, Court of Appeal, January 2015:

“…there is insufficient evidence to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that Jabing had caused most of the fractures (either by multiple strikes or by two strikes with huge force).

…the evidence could only prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jabing had struck the deceased on the head twice. There is also doubt as to whether those two blows were the cause of most of the extensive injuries found in the skull, as opposed to causing it to fracture and resulting in death.”

“Based on the evidence that I have shown to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, I am of the view that the threshold is not crossed. Jabing, along with Galing, had intended to rob the deceased and his companion, Wu Jun. Jabing had approached the deceased from behind and struck him with two wicked blows to the head with the intention, at the very minimum, to incapacitate him. But he had stopped after that. It was not a case in which he had repeatedly hit the deceased after he was down, which would justify the conclusion that he had acted with viciousness and blatant disregard for human life. I must therefore, with the greatest of respect, disagree with the decision of the majority of this court to allow the appeal of the Public Prosecutor.”

Justice Woo Bih Li, Court of Appeal, January 2015:

“In the circumstances, and even though Jabing’s blows would have been of considerable force, it is in my view unsafe to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted in a way which exhibited a blatant disregard for human life. I would therefore dismiss the Prosecution’s appeal for capital punishment for Jabing.”

Joint Media Statement: Imminent executions in Singapore and Indonesia must be halted

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Imminent executions in Singapore and Indonesia must be halted

We the undersigned, human rights organizations, and concerned human rights defenders condemn the imminent executions of Kho Jabing in Singapore and at least 15 individuals which apparently includes, 4 Chinese nationals, 2 Nigerians, 2 Zimbabweans, 1 Senegalese, 1 Pakistani and 5 Indonesian nationals in Indonesia. We call on the authorities of the two countries to halt the impending executions.

On 12 May 2016, the family of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national on death row in Singapore, received a letter from the Singapore Prisons informing them that Kho Jabing would be executed on 20 May 2016. Kho Jabing was convicted of murder in 2011. Of particular concern is the fact that there was a lack of unanimity in sentencing Kho Jabing to death, which demonstrates that reasonable doubt exists as to whether Kho Jabing deserved the death penalty.

As regards the imminent executions that will be taking place in Indonesia, Indonesia would contravene her own international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right by executing these individuals.

The Association of South East Asian Nations Member States (“ASEAN”), including Singapore and Indonesia, have continuously emphasized the importance of the rule of law and the protection of rights. The death penalty therefore stands out as an aberration.

In December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted its latest resolutions calling on all States to adopt a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view towards abolition. A record number of 117 Member States supported the Resolution. Regrettably, Indonesia abstained and Singapore voted against the Resolution. The ASEAN Member States must use the opportunity presented by this Resolution to align themselves with the global movement towards abolition.

Singapore has recently undergone its second Universal Periodic Review in January 2016. The continued use of the death penalty was one of the key highlights of the review, with Singapore receiving over 30 recommendations related to the death penalty, including recommendations to abolish the death penalty.

In 2015, Indonesia, a United Nations Human Rights Council Member until 2017, executed 14 individuals convicted of drug-related offences amid strong international opposition. The imminent executions would further damage Indonesia’s human rights record and erode her standing in the international community.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st Century. Not only is there a real possibility of wrongful executions, it deprives inmates of their life and dignity, and creates new classes of victims. We strongly urge the governments of Singapore and Indonesia to halt the upcoming executions, immediately impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and take meaningful steps towards its eventual abolition.

List of Signatories:
Anti-Death Penalty Network Asia (ADPAN)
Center for Prisoner’s Rights Japan (CPR)
Community Action Network (CAN, Singapore)
Free Community Church (Singapore)
Function 8 (Singapore)
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Maruah (Singapore)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
Journey of Hope
Legal Aid Community (LBH Masyarakat, Indonesia)
Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR)
Ocean
Pusat Studi Hukum dan Kebijakan Indonesia (The Indonesian Center for Law and Policy Studies)
Reprieve Australia
Sayoni (Singapore)
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP)
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS, Indonesia)
The Indonesian Center for Law and Policy Studies (PSHK, Indonesia)
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR, Indonesia)
The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy of Indonesia (ELSAM)
The National Human Rights Society, Malaysia (HAKAM)
Think Centre Singapore
We Believe in Second Chances (WBSC, Singapore)

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dobby Chew, SUARAM
[email protected]

Priscilla Chia, We Believe in Second Chances (Singapore)
[email protected]

Bernhard Ruben, The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy of Indonesia (Indonesia)
[email protected]

Puri Kencana,The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS, Indonesia)
[email protected]

Sam Zarifi (International Commission of Jurists, Bangkok)
[email protected]