Joint Statement Regarding the Re-sentencing of Yong Vui Kong
November 15, 2013, 1:24 am
Filed under: Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

November 14, 2013, Singapore – The Singapore Anti-death Penalty Campaign and We Believe In Second Chances welcome today’s decision by Justice Choo Han Teck to spare former drug mule Yong Vui Kong from the gallows. It has always been our position that Yong, a young, first-time offender, deserves a second chance. We are relieved he will not have to pay the ultimate price for his mistake. However his punishment remains a heavy one – Yong will now have to serve a life sentence and receive 15 strokes of the cane.  

 

Today’s verdict was possible because of recent changes to Singapore’s death penalty regime. While we are glad that the amendments have given judges a restricted amount of discretion where they used to have none, we would also like to echo Justice Choo who on October 25, 2013, pointed out that the new law might be problematic in providing defendants a fair process in meeting requirements that need to be fulfilled, before they are eligible for a re-sentencing hearing.

 

Under the amendments, the death penalty is no longer mandatory for those convicted in drug trafficking cases if the accused is no more than a courier and if the prosecution certifies that he or she rendered substantial assistance to the Central Narcotics Bureau. 

 

The Court only determines whether the two requirements are met after the accused person is convicted. 

However, as Justice Choo noted, if evidence relating to whether the accused was a courier is introduced after he is convicted, there is a possibility that this could contradict the court’s original findings or even cast doubts on the accused’s guilt. 

 

Disallowing this evidence on the other hand, might prejudice the accused, making it impossible for him to prove he was just a courier. 

Justice Choo suggested that an alternative would be to make it a rule that evidence be produced at trial. However, this puts the accused in a tough position – in order to make the claim that he was just a courier, he must first admit he was trafficking drugs.

 

Either way, the accused person may potentially be disadvantaged in being able to discharge the burden of showing that the requirements have been met. This is unacceptable, especially since the punishment is mandatory death.

We note that this problem would not persist should full discretion be given to judges to decide on the punishment, and we reiterate our calls for this to be so.

 

We also question whether the caning of those who have already received a life sentence, is necessary. As Yong’s lawyer, M Ravi, pointed out in Court today, his client is “a pale shadow of the person he was four years ago. He has little fat. He is weak and frail.”

 

Given Yong’s poor health, we hope that the Prison or the Courts will be extra vigilant in meting out any punishment to him. Moreover, it is important to note that only 33 jurisdictions around the world allow the caning of convicted offenders. Most civilised countries consider the punishment to be a barbaric one. 

 

Furthermore, we would like to point out that the deterrent effect of the death penalty over alternative forms of punishment is unproven. Furthermore, the penalty is an irreversible punishment at the end of a process, which is subject to the fallibilities of humans. We may be able to release innocent persons from prison, but we cannot reverse their executions.

 

Finally, we join Yong’s family in expressing our deepest gratitude to his lawyer, M Ravi, for working so tirelessly and selflessly for his client these past four years. We know it has not been an easy journey and we are glad he never gave up. 

 

– end –

Contact information

 

Singapore Anti-death Penalty Campaign – rachelabsinthe@gmail.com

We Believe In Second Chances – contact@secondchances.asia

http://singaporeantideathpenaltycampaign.wordpress.com/statements-and-press-release/2013-2/joint-statement-regarding-the-re-sentencing-of-yong-vui-kong/



Half the battle won
September 19, 2013, 1:07 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

Photo credit: Han Thon

“Give Vui Kong a Second Chance” (2010) – Photo credit: Han Thon

When I received the news that Vui Kong will be issued the Certificate of Co-operation on Wednesday, I was close to tears. After 4 years of working on the campaign, which has been a roller-coaster ride between hopefulness and frustration, this feels like half a heavy load lifted from my shoulders… what a relief, in a lot of ways!

This is certainly great news for the loved ones of Vui Kong as well as the campaigners past and present, who have been working on this campaign since 2009. Special mention has to go to M Ravi, who has worked tirelessly and passionately, exploring all legal possibilities. Without him, Vui Kong and many others on death row might not have been here with us today and no amendments to both the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act might have seen the light of the day. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Vui Kong and his family, as well as Ravi for what has been achieved today in this particular case. I would also like to congratulate the loved ones of Subashkaran Pragasam, the other death-row inmate who will be issued the Certificate of Co-operation.

For Vui Kong and Subashkaran, this is half the battle won and we await the good news that will result from the review, especially in the case of Vui Kong because I strongly believe that he stands a good chance to have his death sentence commuted.

However for advocates against both the death penalty and mandatory death penalty, work for us continues until the day we are rid of both. We shall pat each others’ backs and shake each others’ hands in encouragement and solidarity today for we have seen some results no matter how slight, and get back to our work as usual when morning breaks. ;)

Note: I must reiterate though that as much as I am hopeful that Vui Kong and more death-row inmates will see their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, I do not welcome the addition of judicial caning as part of the deal. 

Further reading:

A 4-year campaign to save a life



Court commutes Fabian Adiu Edwin’s death sentence to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of cane – a hopeful but mixed beginning
July 19, 2013, 9:39 am
Filed under: Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

19 July 2013

sadpc_logoThe Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) is encouraged to learn that Fabian Adiu Edwin, a 23 year old Malaysian from Sabah, had his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment on 16 July 2013. We express dismay, however, at the 24 strokes of cane he will additionally receive as punishment.

Fabian, then 19, was part of a duo involved in the fatal robbery of a security guard in 2009. He was convicted of murder and given the mandatory death sentence for causing skull fractures that led to the latter’s death.

Under the recent amendments to the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act which provides for judicial discretion in the sentencing of murders (among other crimes), High Court judge Chan Seng Onn reviewed the case and re-sentenced Fabian to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane, citing Fabian’s youth at the time of the offence and sub-normal intellect as mitigating factors.

Fabian’s commutation marks a hopeful, if mixed beginning for the series of death sentence reviews to take place since the amendments were introduced in November last year. As more cases are reviewed in the coming months, we look forward to more positive developments. We hope that the caning of Fabian will not be accepted as legal precedence, or as substitute for the death sentence.

We at SADPC are committed towards the complete abolition of the death penalty as it is a cruel, inhumane and vindictive act that does little in practice to serve justice. Further, while SADPC has not traditionally campaigned against judicial corporal punishment such as caning, we reject it on the same grounds.

With this, we strongly urge the government to be forward-looking and, as many civilised societies that abolished the death penalty and judicial corporal punishment have, consider alternative forms of punishment that protect the human rights of both convicts and victims. We must not continue the practice of killing or inflicting physical pain on another human being in the name of justice or maintaining public order.

For media enquiries, please contact the following:
Rachel Zeng
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
rachelabsinthe@gmail.com

Further reading:

URL of statement: http://singaporeantideathpenaltycampaign.wordpress.com/statements-and-press-release/2013-2/court-commutes-fabian-adiu-edwins-death-sentence-to-life-imprisonment-and-24-strokes-of-cane-a-hopeful-but-mixed-beginning/



Fabian Adiu Edwin – The first death-row inmate to get his sentence commuted under the new law
July 18, 2013, 2:14 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

On Tuesday 16 July 2013, Fabian Adiu Edwin became the first death-row inmate to get his sentence commuted after his case was reviewed at the High Court under the new amendments to the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act, which allows judges to exercise judicial discretion by taking mitigating factors into consideration. In his judgment, High Court judge Chan Seng Onn considered Fabian’s young age at the time of his crime and his sub-normal intellect as mitigating factors and re-sentenced him to life imprisonment, plus 24 strokes of the cane.

Now I have been following this case since it was first reported in 2009. To a legal layperson like me, it was clearly a robbery gone wrong and in addition, Fabian’s sub-normal intellect should have granted him diminished responsibility. However when he was tried and sentenced in 2011, judge Chan disagreed with the Defence that Fabian should be tried with the consideration of diminished responsibility as the Defence could not produce evidences that he was suffering from an abnormality of mind at the time of the crime. Judge Chan also found inconsistency in Fabian’s statements when asked if he had intended to hurt the victim. Therefore, Fabian was found guilty of culpable homicide and was sentenced with the mandatory death sentence under 300(c) of the Penal Code. His co-accused, Ellary bin Puling, was found guilty of robbery with hurt and escaped being sentenced with the mandatory death sentence as judge Chan did not find common intent between Fabian and Ellary.

While I am genuinely grateful for the decision to overturn Fabian’s death sentence, I am dismayed by the fact that he will still have to face 24 strokes of the cane. In my opinion, caning constitutes torture and in a first world country like Singapore, we should be more enlightened about that fact and look towards alternative and humane ways of punishing and rehabilitating criminals. Furthermore, Fabian has been certified to be of sub-normal intellect and was said to be lowly educated, which could have contributed to his gross misconduct. Looking at all his circumstances, Fabian obviously falls within the marginalised. Do we want to become a country that treats the marginalised in such a barbaric and inhumane manner?

Well I think we seriously need to reflect on that.

Further reading:

Migrant workers facing capital punishment in Singapore: Use alternate sentence in place of death sentence

Court reviews sentence for murder under new laws



Some thoughts regarding the case of Rebecca Loh
June 25, 2013, 1:40 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

LohChuiLai01eRebecca Loh (pictured left), the mother accused of murdering her nine-year-old son, has been certified to be of sound mind and fit for court proceedings. If found guilty of murder, she will be sentenced to death.

Rebecca’s case is a perfect example of what non-inclusive policies towards certain members of our society (i.e., single mothers, persons with serious medical conditions/ disabilities/ special needs) may result in. A State can never erase its mistakes by hanging victims of its failed policies. It needs to reflect on how its policies can be made more inclusive so that people have enough supportive network(s) to ensure that they will not fall through the cracks.

It is time our government exercises a more reflective attitude and see how their policies have failed to serve the needs of various groups in our society, resulting in the marginalisation of these groups. As mental and psychological resilience vary from person to person, I am not saying that everyone who belongs to the marginalised groups will definitely come to such a fate. However there is always a possibility, especially when one does not know where or who to seek help from and what the future may bring.

As an educator, I have met several parents and single parents with children who are disable and/or require special education. The truth is, these parents are constantly worrying about the future of their children. Although many of them are able to overcome their worries or handle it more positively, some have expressed to me that they will never die in peace should their children over-live them because (to quote one of them) “Who will take care of H after I am gone? People in this society will end up taking advantage of a person like him because they have no compassion and time to be patient with anyone who thinks and acts slow”.

It is heartbreaking, but life for some of these parents takes on a different reality from many of us. If the policies of the system do not fully consider their plight and circumstances, the court must, because they are made up of judges who are human beings themselves.

This is how I see it, but I understand that there are many different perspectives out there, with some calling her a cold-hearted murderer who should be sent to the gallows. I cannot and do not intend to take away their right to form opinions, but I wish to call upon this group of people to put themselves in her shoes and see the reality from where she stood –  a single mother living with financial difficulties, who had a child diagnosed with liver disorder and could not move around independently – what would you have done?

To clarify, I am not attempting to find excuses to dismiss the seriousness of the deed, but to appeal to all of you to consider her plight, background and the factors that might have compelled her to do what she had allegedly done. Does she need help, or should she be sent to the gallows? What do you think you will need, if you were in her situation?

Please, do take some time to think about it.



The mother accused of murdering her nine-year-old son in West Coast has been found to be of sound mind.
June 25, 2013, 12:07 am
Filed under: News Articles, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

Originally posted on Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign:

SADPC is very concerned about the following case and will be following it together with We Believe in Second Chances, Think Centre and members of civil society who are equally concerned.

_____________

SINGAPORE: The mother accused of murdering her nine-year-old son in West Coast has been found to be of sound mind.

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai allegedly caused the death of Gabriel Loh, who was found lying unconscious at the foot of a block of flats at West Coast Road on 1 June.

The boy was declared dead shortly after 7pm, less than an hour after he was sent to the National University Hospital (NUH).

It is understood that the boy attended a special needs school.

On Monday, the court heard that Loh was remanded for psychiatric assessment and was found to be of sound mind.

The prosecution said the 31-year-old is fit for court proceedings.

She has been remanded…

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Two on death row for murder to be resentenced

rachelabsinthe:

The reviews have begun…

Originally posted on Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign:

By Neo Chai Chin – 01 May 2013

SINGAPORE — Two men on death row for murder had their cases sent back to the High Court for resentencing yesterday — the first since the law was amended to give judges sentencing discretion in some murder cases.

Both men are foreign nationals whose appeals had been dismissed by the Court of Appeal before Parliament passed amendments to the Penal Code last November. Previously, the death penalty was mandatory for all murder cases.

Indian national Gopinathan Nair Remadevi Bijukumar’s case was heard first yesterday afternoon. The prosecution did not object when his lawyer Shashi Nathan sought for his matter to be heard again before a trial judge.

Gopinathan, 37, a former shipyard worker, was found guilty of murdering Filipino prostitute Roselyn Reyes Pascua. She was found dead in her rented room in Peony Mansion in Bencoolen Street in March 2010.

Gopinathan claimed…

View original 222 more words




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