Friday, July 25, 2014

Suhakam Hopeful Malaysia Will Abolish Mandatory Death Penalty

It has been several years now that Malaysia has been considering the abolition of the death penalty - starting especially with the mandatory death penalty... we hope that Malaysia abolishes the death penalty soonest...

Suhakam Hopeful Malaysia Will Abolish Mandatory Death Penalty

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 (Bernama) -- Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is in favour of Malaysia joining a list of countries which have outlawed the mandatory death penalty, especially on drug traffickers.

Its vice-chairman, Dr Khaw Lake Tee is optimistic that officers of the Attorney-General's Chambers who are currently undertaking a comprehensive study on the matter, will come up with positive recommendation by year-end.

"Let's hope something positive will come out of this, since not all those prosecuted in courts are members of drug syndicates or cartels," he noted.

During a media briefing on Malaysia's Second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Suhakam headquarters here, he said the government had partially agreed on outlawing the mandatory death sentence which was one of the recommendations proposed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

She said Suhakam had been working with the Malaysian Bar Council, members of parliament, foreign ministry and other stakeholders on the need for courts (judges) to be given discretionary powers in imposing much more appropriate sentences, including life sentences.

UPR is a mechanism established by the UNHRC to improve human rights situation in each of the 193 UN member states by reviewing their human rights records every four-and-a-half years.

Although she agreed that Malaysia was one of the major drug transit points where authorities needed to come hard on drug traffickers, she noted that it should also be taken into consideration that a number of cases of innocent people, including women, were lured as drug mules.

Under Malaysian law, offences related to drugs, murder and waging war against the ruler or Yang-Dipertuan Agong carried mandatory death sentences.

On the possibility of Malaysia voluntarily imposing a moratorium on the death penalty, Khaw said the government did not support the idea since some countries which previously carried out such a move had recently reintroduced its application.

The Suhakam vice-chairman said Malaysia had accepted 150 out of 232 recommendations received from member states.

Perusing on some of the recommendations, Khaw said the Government accepted in allocating more funds for the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly in the areas of employment, education and housing.

-- BERNAMA, 22/7/2014

Suhakam hopeful Malaysia will abolish mandatory death penalty - Malaysia Chronicle-Jul 22, 2014

Suhakam hopeful Malaysia will abolish mandatory death, The Sun

Suhakam hopeful mandatory death penalty will be abolished - Sin Chew Jit Poh


Did Malaysia execute Alaggandiran a/l Vellu in March 2014?

Perusing the Hands Off Cain website, I came across this news --- is it true?

Malaysia is very 'secretive' - they do not openly report executions - really odd as one of the reasons for maintaining the death penalty is deterrence - How will it deter people if we are not made aware of executions...

The last AI Report said that Malaysia executed 2 in 2013 - but unfortunately when I checked with AI, there seems to be no source of that information, and as such I would take it as there have been no executions..

Malaysia has indeed stopped carrying out executions ...and there has been an ongoing review possibly towards abolition being undertaken - naturally during such a review process, executions would be put on hold - and rightly the numbers on death row will swell - now about 930 are on death row... In 2012, it was also reported that 'based on the appeals between 2001 and Aug 31 this year, 41 death row prisoners were pardoned, with six having their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment, 33 to set terms of imprisonment, one released earlier and another released immediately.'

So, Malaysia is serious about the review and death penalty hopefully would soon be no more in Malaysia...

Hence, the alleged execution of Alaggandiran a/l Vellu is odd - I will investigate further and revert later... with the truth.. 

May 28, 2014: In March 2014, Alaggandiran a/l Vellu was executed after being convicted of murder, said the Malaysian Bar. Allaggandiran, also known as Chellah, was charged with the offence of murder for causing the death of a 16-year-old boy, Vikneswaran a/l Nagapan, on 5 May 1999. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by learned High Court judge Shah Alam, and his sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 12 October 2009. (Sources: email from Malaysian Bar, 28/05/2014) - Hands Off Cain 

 930 on death row as of Aug 31, says Abu Seman

KUALA LUMPUR: A total 930 death row prisoners were in jails in the country as of Aug 31, their cases pending appeal in the courts and a decision of the Pardons Board, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said these prisoners had been convicted of various offences, among them drug trafficking, murder, kidnap and offences related to firearms and national security. 
He was replying to a question from Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) on the latest statistics of death row prisoners in the country.   
Abu Seman said the appeals of 725 of the prisoners were at the appeal process in the courts while the rest were awaiting a decision of the Pardons Board.  
He said that based on the appeals between 2001 and Aug 31 this year, 41 death row prisoners were pardoned, with six having their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment, 33 to set terms of imprisonment, one released earlier and another released immediately. 
Replying to a supplementary question from Karpal Singh, Abu Seman said the government had no plan to dispose of the mandatory death sentence. 
To another supplementary question, from Mohd Nor Othman (BN-Hulu Terengganu), he said the government had no plan to bill costs to repeat offenders as the number of such offenders was small. -- BERNAMA - New Straits Times, 10/10/2012, 930 on death row as of Aug 31, says Abu Seman

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Death Penalty - Qisas and Diyat law in Pakistan - victim or his heir have the right to pardon the accused

An interesting article....persons facing death can escape death by paying compensation to the family/heirs of victim - but is it just? This avenue may only be available to the rich....not the poor.

Should be 'total pardon' or just result in commutation of the death sentence to imprisonment? 

Should Malaysia be considering this? For murder, the 'heir of the victim' is clear - but for drug trafficking cases, can it apply? 

Should victims of crimes play a more significant role in sentencing - should they or their families have a say before sentencing. If the family of victim  'pardons' - should it not have a bearing on the sentence - should it not be a mitigating factor, capable of even changing 'mandatory death sentences' to prison sentences...


Reforming the law: In Pakistan, punishment is Islamic, but not the procedure

By Our Correspondent
Published: November 12, 2012
A number of Muslim majority countries have abolished the death penalty; can we begin the debate in Pakistan? 

  Around 100 countries with varying legal traditions have abolished the death penalty, including a number of Muslim majority countries like Turkey, Albania and Djibouti according to the Amnesty International. The case of death penalty in Pakistan, however, is trickier.

“Over here, the punishment for murder is Islamic but the procedure for investigating such cases is not,” says Barrister Umar Mahmood Khan, who practices criminal law in Punjab’s court. The burden of proof is extremely high, but the investigation is so faulty that the conditions for a fair trial as required by the Islamic law are never met here, says Khan. Money is frequently used to influence investigation, which is structurally testimonial-centric, so there is not much left for the lawyers to defend.

So far, Khan says, he has not seen the trickle down effect of government attempt, if any, that could help the marginalised in death penalty cases. Despite setting up of a forensic lab for advanced investigation techniques, no definite change in cases like murder and rape are seen yet, he adds.

Qisas and diyat

Under Islamic law, the punishment for murder, homicide or infliction of injury can either be in the form of qisas – equal punishment for the crime committed – or diyat – compensation payable to the victims or their legal heirs. Under the Qisas and Diyat law in Pakistan, the victim or his heir have the right to determine whether to exact retribution (qisas) or compensation (diyat) or to pardon the accused.

The ordinance came under the spotlight in the Raymond Davis case when the CIA contractor, accused of killing two Pakistanis in Lahore, was allowed to leave Pakistan after paying compensation to the victims’ heirs.

Given how diyat reduces rescue from gallows to money, Barrister Zafrullah asks, “Is Islam the religion for rich only?”

The Qisas and Diyat ordinance is “privatisation of justice” and absolves the state of protecting its citizens, says the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s 2006 report on death penalty, “Slow March to Gallows.”
Arthur Wilson, executive director at Prison Fellowship Pakistan, has been mediating for forgiveness of condemned prisoners for over two decades. Wilson says as a Christian he does not believe in blood money, but as an activist he needs to make best use of what the system offers him.

“A lot of families of deceased when approached, would like to take the blood money and forgive the accused, if it were not for those who have stakes in wrongful conviction of the accused.”

Room for debate

In Pakistan, people’s idea of justice regarding the death penalty is based on religion and there is a need for starting a debate on Islamic law; therefore, the debate on emphasis that Islamic Law puts on a state to provide justice needs to be conducted openly, says Sarah Belal.

Asad Jamal, a senior lawyer, argues that there is a need for policy to regulate the Qisas and Diyat law, and quotes from a paper written by William Schabas, a professor or Islamic Law at University of Montreal, in 2000.

“Schabas writes that though all Islamic countries have ‘demonstrated some degree of flexibility in the interpretation of Islamic law in some of the areas of criminal law, yet they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that the same approach may be undertaken with respect to the death penalty.  It appears that religion is little more than a pretext to justify a resort to harsh penalties that is driven by backward and repressive attitudes in the area of criminal law,” Jamal says.

Path to the gallows is strewn with orders and appeals

Capital punishment is prescribed as the maximum punishment for over 20 different crimes in Pakistan, including various forms of intentional murder, treason, blasphemy, kidnapping or abduction, rape, procuration and importation for prostitution, assault on modesty of woman and stripping of her clothes, drug smuggling, arms trading, and sabotage of the railway system.

An accused becomes a condemned prisoner after an additional district and sessions judge condemns him to death. Prisoners, however, cannot be executed unless a High Court confirms the death penalty. Even if the prisoner does not appeal his penalty, jail authorities automatically take the case to a High Court. If the High Court upholds the death penalty, the additional district and sessions judge issues a black warrant which bears the date of the execution. After that, the prisoner can appeal to the Supreme Court (SC). If the SC does not issue a stay order before the day of execution, the prisoner will be hanged. And if the SC upholds the penalty, the prisoner, through jail authorities, can send a mercy appeal to the president as last resort.

Under article 45 of the Constitution, the president has the “power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority,” if there is a mercy petition before him.

A prisoner is on the death row after all his appeals have been rejected.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.

2 executed on 18 July 2014 in Singapore - Circumstances raise doubts...?

Singapore has executed 2 persons on 18 July 2014, and we know this also because of the statement issued by the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore (see the statement below). In Malaysia, we would never know because it is all 'SECRET' - the only way of getting information seems to be by asking questions in Parliament. Malaysia really should follow Singapore, and maybe issue statements not just after a person is hanged BUT before execution is carried out. In Malaysia, in 2014, we were able to save 2 lives

Shocking attempt by Malaysia to hang Philip Michael discovered at the last minute and stopped

Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), convicted for murder, to be hanged on 14/3/2014 - Execution stayed & the Malaysian Minister and Attorney General helped in getting the execution stayed.

Chandran Paskaran saved at the last minute from being hanged to death

Chandran s/o Paskaran, convicted for murder was to hang on 7 February 2014 - the swift intervention by civil society groups led to the Sultan of Johore granting a stay of execution of the death sentence

Singapore also amended their laws in 2012 that now allows persons sentenced to death to escape death provided they satisfy 2 conditions...

Following Singapore's amendment of their drug laws, to escape the death penalty, the accussed needs to satisfy 2 conditions - (1) Must get a CERTIFICATE OF SUBSTANTIVE ASSISTANCE from the Attorney General's Chambers, and (2) prove on a balance of probabilities, that his involvement in the offence under section 5(1) or 7 was restricted — to transporting, sending or delivering a controlled drug; to offering to transport, send or deliver a controlled drug; to doing or offering to do any act preparatory to or for the purpose of his transporting, sending or delivering a controlled drug; or to any combination of activities above;

Hence, the Singapore AG (not the court) just has too much power to decide who is hanged and who lives. 

The AG, who is really the prosecutor, has just too much power, and this is not right - this power to determine 'substantive assistance' has been provided really should rest with the judiciary...

Now, 2 persons were executed....for 'drug trafficking', and according to the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore statement(see below), both '... Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng ...did not wish to be part of the re-sentencing process...' - the process that could have resulted in they not being hanged if they satisfied both conditions.

'Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng both elected not to petition the President for Clemency...' - now, this also strange. Why?

Now, if person knows that he/she is guilty and has accepted their sentence of death, they would 'plead guilty' or just not fight their case...Now, both these persons filed Appeal to the Court of Appeal against their conviction - and the appeal of Tang  Hai Liang was heard and dismissed in July 2011 - so why then would he now not evade being executed by going for the 're-sentencing' process, and also applying for clemency? Likewise, why did Foong  Chee  Peng  file an appeal and then withdraw it?

I recollect the mafia movies ...where people will behave just like this maybe because the 'mafia bosses' out there are demanding silence - threatening maybe the lives of their families, etc  ---   Now, if this was the case - maybe they may be really innocent - or certainly not deserving of death. If this was the case, they may even be scared to reveal the truth...or even effectively defend themselves in court... All the more reason, why we really need to abolish the death penalty...



Joint Statement on the Executions Carried out on 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

Updated: Friday July 18, 2014 MYT 8:01:43 PM

Singapore hangs two drug traffickers, first executions in over three years

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore hanged two men convicted of drug trafficking on Friday, the first executions carried out in the city-state for more than three years while the country reviewed its use of the death penalty.

Tang Hai Liang, 36, and Foong Chee Peng, 48, both from Singapore, were executed at Changi Prison according to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), having been convicted of trafficking heroin.

Singapore put a halt to all executions in July 2011 while it reviewed its use of the mandatory death penalty and now allows judges to have more discretion in certain cases.

Last November, it lifted the death penalty on a convicted drug trafficker for the first time.

When the review took place, all people on death row were allowed to ask to be considered for re-sentencing, though the CNB said Tang and Foong both said they did not want to be considered.

"Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng had been accorded full due process," the CNB said.

The Singapore Working Group on the Death Penalty, a group of non-governmental organisations, said they believed the executions should not have taken place given another drug offender is making a constitutional challenge against the anti-drug laws.

"It was deeply unjust to have executed them before the constitutional challenge was decided," they said in a statement.

"The executions are a regrettable step backwards for Singapore," they added.

Singapore has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world, and its customs forms warn arriving travellers of "death for drug traffickers" in no uncertain terms.

It has hanged hundreds of people - including dozens of foreigners - for narcotics offences in the last two decades, Amnesty International and other groups say.

(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Robert Birsel) - The Star Online, 18/7/2014,Singapore hangs two drug traffickers, first executions in over three years

1. Two  Singaporeans,  Tang  Hai  Liang,  36,  and  Foong  Chee  Peng,  48,  had  their  death sentences carried out today, on 18 July 2014 at Changi Prison Complex.

2.  Both Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng were convicted of trafficking in a controlled drug  and  sentenced  to  death.  Tang  Hai  Liang  was found  to have trafficked  89.55g  of  diamorphine  and  Foong  Chee  Peng  was  found  to  have  trafficked  40.23g of  diamorphine.  The  Misuse  of  Drugs  Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine (or pure heroin) trafficked is 15g or more.
15g of diamorphine is equivalent to 1,250 straws1, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 180 abusers for a week.

3.  A thorough review of the mandatory death penalty in our laws was conducted from July 2011. A  moratorium  on  executions  was  placed  while  the  law was  being  reviewed.  The  changes  to  the mandatory death penalty regime were passed by Parliament in November 2012 after a full debate, and came into force in January 2013. All persons already sentenced to death under the Misuse of Drugs Act by the time the new legislation came into force were given the opportunity to elect to be
considered for re-sentencing under the new regime. 

4.  Tang  Hai  Liang  and  Foong  Chee  Peng  had  been  accorded  full  due  process,  including  the opportunity to appeal to the Court of Appeal and to elect to be considered for re-sentencing under the new regime. Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng both appeared in person before an Assistant Registrar in the High Court to confirm that they did not wish to be part of the re-sentencing process, and  that  they  understood  the  consequences  of  their  respective  decisions.  Both  of  them  were represented by counsel throughout the legal process, and were also given the opportunity to petition the President for Clemency. Tang Hai Liang and Foong Chee Peng both elected not to petition the President for Clemency. An unsigned petition for Clemency was subsequently submitted on Tang Hai Liang’s behalf. Tang Hai Liang indicated that he did not wish to appeal for Clemency and that the petition had been submitted by his family without his prior knowledge. This petition for Clemency was
turned down and his family was informed of the decision. 

18 JULY 2014 

1 This is estimated using a typical purity level of  4%, based on drug seizures in recent years. The number of straws that are actually made may vary according to the purity level of the heroin used in the straws.

18 July 2014
Page 2of 2


Details of Cases

Tang Hai Liang

1.  On  15  April  2009,  CNB  officers  arrested  Tang  Hai Liang.  A  total  of  136  packets  of  heroin having a gross weight of about 1,117.66g and 588 tablets of erimin-5 were recovered in his residence. The heroin was found to contain 89.55g of diamorphine after analysis. Prior to his arrest, Tang Hai Liang had been packing the heroin in his possessionand had sold one packet to his client just before he was arrested. On 19 November 2010, Tang Hai Liang was convicted of trafficking in a controlled drug  by  having  89.55g  of  diamorphine  in  his  possession  for  the  purpose  of  trafficking,  an  offence under  section  5(1)(a)  read  with  section  5(2)  of  the Misuse  of  Drugs  Act  (Chapter  185).  Tang  Hai Liang’s appeal against his conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 6 July 2011.

Foong Chee Peng

2.  On 30 September 2009, CNB officers arrested Foong Chee Peng when officers raided the rented  unit  he  was  staying  in.  A  total  of  913.58g  of  heroin,  2.42g  of  ketamine,  32.73g  of methamphetamine,  3,942  tablets  of  erimin-5,  30  ecstasy  tablets  and  various  drug  trafficking paraphernalia were recovered. The heroin was found to contain 40.23g of diamorphine after analysis. By  the  time  Foong  Chee  Peng  was  arrested,  he  had  already  packed  some  of  the  heroin  in  his possession into 30 packets for sale. On 19 April 2011, Foong Chee Peng was convicted of trafficking in a controlled drug by having 40.23g of diamorphine in his possession for the purpose of trafficking,an offence under section 5(1)(a) read with section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Foong Chee Peng filed an appeal against his conviction but subsequently withdrew his appeal