Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yong Vui Kong - Singapore court rejects death-row Malaysian's appeal

Singapore court rejects death-row Malaysian's appeal

AFP April 4, 2012, 7:08 pm
Yong Yun Leong (left) and Yong Yun Chung (centre), the brothers of convicted Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong, leave the High Court with lawyer M Ravi, in Singapore on April 4, 2011. Yong Vui Kong, on death ro for drug trafficking had what could be his final appeal thrown out on Wednesday by the city-state s highest court.AFP © Enlarge photo
SINGAPORE (AFP) - A Malaysian man on death row in Singapore for drug trafficking had what could be his final appeal thrown out on Wednesday by the city-state's highest court.

Yong Vui Kong was 19 when he was sentenced to hang in 2008 for smuggling 47 grams (1.65 ounces) of heroin into Singapore. Only an act of clemency from President Tony Tan can save him now after his third appeal was rejected.

"We dismiss the application as it has absolutely no merit on the law and on the facts," said chief justice Chan Sek Keong, who heads the three-judge Court of Appeal.

"We are unable to accept any of the arguments. Some are mere assertions while some are contrary to evidence," he added, reading a summary of the written judgement to Yong, who stood somberly as he faced the judge.

Yong, now 23, from eastern Malaysia's Sabah state, has also filed a second appeal for presidential clemency after his first bid was refused by the previous president, SR Nathan.

According to official figures, there were four executions in 2011, two of them for drug-related offences. From 2004 to 2010, there were 26 Singaporeans and 12 foreigners hanged.

Death by hanging, the only form of execution in Singapore, is mandatory for anyone caught trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine or 500 grams of cannabis, as well as for murder.

In its latest report, Amnesty International said the wealthy city-state is one of seven countries, including Malaysia, India and Iran, that continue to have a mandatory death penalty for certain crimes.

Singapore officials have defended capital punishment as crucial in the fight against drugs. -, 4/4/2012, Singapore court rejects death-row Malaysian's appeal

22 death-row inmates exonerated, repatriated to Indonesia

22 death-row inmates exonerated, repatriated to Indonesia

Twenty two death row Indonesian inmates in the Kingdom have been exonerated and repatriated back to Indonesia, while 25 maids are still facing death sentences in Saudi Arabia for various offenses.

“Jakarta will be sending a 14-member presidential task force to the Kingdom on April 7 to talk to Saudi officials and to intensify efforts in cooperation with its embassy to rescue the maids,” said Hendrar Pramutyo, spokesman of the Indonesian embassy in Riyadh, on Thursday.

Pramutyo said: “Six housemaids are on death row in Riyadh province alone, whereas about 19 female workers have been handed death sentences in the Western region. We will be attending a court hearing in Dammam next week.”

He added many other workers may not be so fortunate. However, the embassy as well as the Jeddah-based consulate are working hard to secure pardons for the workers, he added.

Such problems are limited to a few countries, he noted.

According to a report published in Indonesian newspaper The Presidential Post, a total of 167 Indonesian nationals are on death row, and 11 others had also been sentenced to death in different countries including Saudi Arabia recently. Most Indonesian nationals sentenced to death had committed either serious criminal offenses or implicated on baseless grounds.

Some 117 are in death row in Malaysia, 20 in China, 25 in Saudi Arabia, and two in Singapore. They can always be acquitted if these countries find them not guilty or a royal pardon is granted, said Pramutyo.

To this end, the spokesman noted the Indonesian government is committed to saving the lives of its citizens. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced last week an extension to the tenure of the special taskforce handling Indonesian migrant workers.

Asked about the total number of convicted workers currently languishing in Saudi jails, the embassy’s spokesman said a total of 1,700 Indonesians were serving prison terms.

“However, thanks to the Saudi government amnesty a large number of them were set free and repatriated back to Indonesia,” said Pramutyo. He pointed out the Indonesian diplomatic missions are still exerting efforts to secure the release of workers in jail for petty crimes.

“We have also asked permission from the host government to allow our presidential task force delegation to visit Saudi jails,” said the spokesman, adding that he is awaiting a response from the Kingdom.  The presidential task force visited the Kingdom on previous occasions, which eventually helped to secure the release of some workers and save some of them from execution. Indonesia created this special task force in July last year to protect migrant workers.

The task force’s members focus on migrant workers facing the death penalty in different countries, including Malaysia, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran. On the question of manpower deployment from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said that there is a still a deadlock. However, the two sides are in touch with each other, he added. The Kingdom has imposed its own boycott on recruitment, while Indonesia also decided to maintain its current ban on recruitment agencies sending workers to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Kuwait.
Indonesia says these countries have not adopted a legal framework that it thinks is sufficient to legally protect its workers and ensure their rights are fulfilled. - arab, 5/4/2012, 22 death-row inmates exonerated, repatriated to Indonesia

BAR:- Repeal of ISA is commendable, but provisions in new law that depart from ordinary principles must be reviewed

Press Release

Repeal of ISA is commendable, but provisions in new law that depart from ordinary principles must be reviewed

The Malaysian Bar commends the Honourable Prime Minister for fulfilling the promise he made on 15 September 2011 to abolish the Internal Security Act 1960 (“ISA”).  Since its enactment more than fifty-one years ago, this piece of oppressive legislation enabling preventive detention without trial has been extensively condemned for being a gross violation of human rights, and for the cruel and indiscriminate abuse resulting from its use.

The Malaysian Bar is fully supportive of the Government’s aim to combat terrorism, which represents an extraordinary threat to international and domestic peace and security.  The Government’s counter-terrorism policy and actions must strike a delicate balance between collective security and individual liberties, and be consistent with the rule of law.

In its Memorandum dated 19 July 2010 (“Memorandum”)[1], the Malaysian Bar expressed its view that there is adequate legislation to combat terrorism and, where necessary, the existing legislation could be strengthened alongside improved safeguards and oversight mechanisms.  Nonetheless, the Bar acknowledges that the replacement legislation — the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 (“Bill”) — and the amendments to the Penal Code, Evidence Act 1950 and Criminal Procedure Code (“Amendments”) allow for the right to trial, and contain some provisions found in the laws of other jurisdictions[2].  Furthermore, the maximum period of detention of twenty-eight days, after the arrest and detention period of twenty-four hours, is consistent with the Bar’s position in its Memorandum.

Bar Council was invited by the Honourable Attorney General to provide its comments — although within a short period of time prior to this legislation being tabled in Parliament — and two meetings were held to discuss the Bill.  We welcome the open-minded and frank dialogue with the Attorney General’s Chambers, and note that some of our suggestions were accepted.  Whilst we appreciate the Government’s desire for quick action and the hard work of the Attorney General’s Chambers in its study, and drafting, of the Bill and the Amendments, we urge that in future the consultation process be more extensive, and more time be provided for it.

The Bill vests extraordinary and wide-ranging powers in the Government.  The Bar expresses its concerns regarding, inter alia, the following issues[3], which deserve further study and debate.  
(a) Preamble — the validity of the Bill is not dependent on the invocation of Article 149 so long as it contains safeguards consistent with fundamental liberties.

(b) Section 3 (Interpretation) — the definition of “security offences” includes an act that is prejudicial to national security or public safety[4].   Such a definition is too wide.  Instead, a more precise, and better, definition can be found in the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism:

Any act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing an act.

(c) Section 4 (Power of arrest and detention) — the extension of the period of detention for a duration of not more than twenty-eight days should be subject to judicial oversight, instead of by way of decision of a police officer of or above the rank of Superintendent.

(d) Section 6 (Power to intercept communication) — this power should be exercised by a judge, and solicitor-client communications must be protected.

(e) Parts IV (Special Procedures Relating to Sensitive Information) and VII (Evidence) — it is here that the Malaysian Bar has its greatest concerns, and where there are radical departures from the current rules of evidence.  The use of a summary of the evidence (as opposed to the evidence itself) and the lowering of the admissibility threshold will pose a serious impediment to a fair trial.  

In particular, the radical departure from the ordinary rules of evidence may negatively impact on the accused’s right to a fair trial.  Counter-terrorism laws, policies and decisions must not usurp the very rights and freedoms that the terrorists themselves are threating.  

We appreciate the assurance of the Attorney General that there will be continuous study and review of the Bill and the Amendments, and that the Malaysian Bar’s contribution will be welcomed.  
Apart from the ISA, the other legislation that now remains for the Honourable Prime Minister to consider amending — to rid our statute books of all arbitrary detention laws — are the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 and Prevention of Crime Act 1959, on the assumption that there will be no re-introduction of the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969.
The Malaysian Bar encourages and supports the Prime Minister to continue on a path of law reform that is consonant with international human rights norms.
Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar
10 Apr 2012


[1] The Memorandum is accessible here.
[2] One example is the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act Bill C-36.
[3] The Bar would require some time to prepare and submit a memorandum to address more comprehensively the issues raised by the Bill and Amendments.
[4] The First Schedule of the Bill refers to Chapters VI and VIA of the Penal Code, where section 130B(2) defines “terrorist act”.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Connecticut Senate votes to end death penalty

The state of Connecticut is a step closer to abolishing the death penalty, after its Senate voted 20-16 in favour of getting rid of capital punishment.

The body, controlled by the Democrats, debated for 10 hours before making their decision.

Connecticut’s Democratic Governor, Dannel Malloy, is against the death penalty, and has promised to sign the bill into law.

A lethal injection will be replaced with the sentence of life without parole.

However, the bill is what is known as ‘prospective’, meaning it only applies to future cases. The 11 men on Connecticut’s death row will still be executed. 

The northeastern state becomes the fifth in five years to abandon the death penalty – others include Illinois and New Jersey.

Source: Euronews