Saturday, December 29, 2018
KOTA KINABALU: The families of two convicts on death row are elated with the government’s plan to abolish the death penalty, and cannot wait for the law to be passed.
Duis Akim and Vincent Gisup were sentenced to death alongside a third person, Hendry Motutud, over the murder of a 7-Eleven clerk at Penampang in 2001.
For the families, it has been a “living nightmare” waiting for the duo’s execution.
Duis’ younger sister Angelina said the experience had been particularly tough on both families.
The trio had been acquitted at the High Court, but this was reversed by the Court of Appeal, who sentenced them to death by hanging.
“They were free for five years and then jailed again before being sentenced to death,” Angelina told FMT.
She said the episode was a living nightmare.
“We are restless, upset, sad and can’t sleep much. When we do fall asleep, we wake up thinking about their impending sentence.
“My mother can suddenly break down just like that because she is so heartbroken. That is why we’re praying for the abolishment to go through,” she said.
“We’re not saying they should be freed, because the court has ruled they are guilty. But please don’t take another life.”
Duis’ mother Kindayom Jidu, 64, is praying hard the abolition of the death sentence would indeed take place.
“I actually feel a loss already although the execution has yet to be carried out,” said Kindayom, who broke into tears several times during the interview.
“Imprisonment is enough of a sentence for them,” she added.
Duis, Vincent and Hendry were first freed of murder on July 10, 2007, after a trial that lasted 22 months, in which 24 witnesses were called.
Five years later, on Jan 11, 2012, the Court of Appeal sentenced the trio to death after finding them guilty on a joint charge of murdering Wilfred Thomas, 34, at a 7-Eleven store in Donggongon, Penampang on May 26, 2001.
The court allowed the appeal and set aside the High Court’s order of acquittal and discharge and substituted it with the three respondents being found guilty and convicted of the murder.
They were convicted under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death sentence on conviction.
The Federal Court then upheld the ruling after the trio lost their appeal later in December the same year. They have been waiting for the death sentence ever since.
Another sibling of Duis, who declined to be named, said she understood it would be difficult for families of victims to accept the abolishment of death penalties.
“But our plea is a life has been tragically taken, but why should another life be taken as well?
“We hope forgiveness is there although we know to forgive is not so easy,” she said.
A bill to abolish the mandatory death penalty is expected to be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said the Attorney-General’s Chambers was currently in the final stages of preparing the legislative papers for this purpose.
The Cabinet had decided that the death penalty for 33 offences under eight acts of law would be abolished, including Section 302 of the Penal Code (for murder).
The laws are the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act 1971, Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972, Water Services Industries Act 2006, Strategic Trade Act 2010 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
As of October this year, there were 65,222 prisoners, including 1,281 death row inmates.- FMT News, 26/12/2018
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Law Society (SLS) has voiced support for the push by de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong to abolish the death penalty and impose a moratorium on all executions until then.
SLS president Brendon Soh told FMT the right to life was enshrined in the constitution.
“This makes the intentional taking away of life an affront to that right,” he said.
“The death penalty is contrary to the meaning of humanity, mercy and sanctity of life.”
He said such a harsh punishment, including for drug-related offences, had no place in any society that valued life, justice and mercy.
He also noted instances of trials in court which had been compromised, leading to a miscarriage of justice.
He said these individuals had been convicted thanks to false evidence given by prosecution witnesses but later overturned on appeal while the false witnesses were charged with perjury and imprisoned for their act.
“Retired High Court judge Ian Chin, who supports the abolishment of the death penalty, has said there is no judiciary in the world that can guarantee that innocent lives will not be taken.
“He also did not dismiss the fact that there has been evidence to indicate that even well-functioning legal systems have sentenced to death men and women who were subsequently proven innocent,” he said.
For example, Soh said, there were 83 cases of innocent people in the US who were wrongly sentenced to death between 2007 and 2017.
The contributing causes of their wrongful convictions included official misconduct, perjury or false accusations, false or misleading forensic evidence, inadequate legal defence, false or fabricated confessions and mistaken eyewitness identification.
In the case of Malaysia, Soh said the mandatory death penalty for certain crimes, especially drug-related offences, did not appear to have a sufficient deterrent effect.
Liew said in October that the total number of prisoners earlier that month stood at 59,997, with 1,279 on death row.
“In less than three weeks, there was an increase of 5,225 prisoners with two prisoners sentenced to death,” Soh said. “Of the 65,222 prisoners, about 55% or 36,313 are in prison for drug-related offences.
“Most of them were found to be drug abusers, which calls for treatment rather than imprisonment.
“The menace of drugs is also reflected in the 1,281 death row inmates as 927 of them were sentenced for drug trafficking, a capital offence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.”
The statistics, he said, showed that victims of circumstances had been charged instead of the real perpetrators.
“Despite the death penalty, murder and drug trafficking have not decreased. In fact, there appears to be no significant reduction in the crimes for which the death penalty is currently mandatory,” he said. - FMT News, 19/12/2018
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
MADPET -Restore Moratorium On Use Of Draconian Laws And Immediately Release Those Detained Without Trial
Media Statement:- 6/12/2018
RESTORE MORATORIUM ON USE OF DRACONIAN LAWS AND IMMEDIATELY RELEASE THOSE DETAINED WITHOUT TRIAL
Pakatan Harapan risk becoming like previous government after coming into power?
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is shocked with the announcement that the government is lifting the moratorium of the use of draconian laws like Sedition Act 1948, Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA); Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA); the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA). Amongst the Pakatan Harapan election promises was the abolition of these draconian laws, and in October 2018, the announcement of the Cabinet decision to impose a moratorium on application of these laws pending abolition/amendment was hopeful. We hoped we will finally be rid of the bad laws but now the government backtracks and says it will use these laws.
The Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo was reported saying, that "The use of this act (in the moratorium) will continue for now. The proposed amendments are still in process, and will be announced when the government is ready to formulate a new policy,"(New Straits Times, 3/12/2018).
Administrative Power To Detain People Without Judicial Oversight Is Unjust
To prevent police and government abuse of power, the law provides that a person arrested shall be brought before a Magistrate for a remand application, if the police need to detain a suspect for more than 24 hours. During this application, the Magistrate will consider the police’s reasons, and the arguments of the suspect (and/or his/her lawyer), and then decide justly whether to refuse the police application, or to grant the said remand application. If the remand application is granted, then the Magistrate will grant a remand order for a fixed number of days. If the police after the expiry of this remand period, they can come again and apply for further remand but the maximum shall generally not be more than 14 days from the date of arrest.
If SOSMA, POCA and/or POTA is used, then this check and balance provided by the Magistrate to prevent abuse of powers and miscarriage of justice by the police, enforcement agencies and/or government, brought about by prolonged and unnecessary detention of suspects, is avoided.
If SOSMA is used, then there is no more the requirement for the police to bring the person arrested before the Magistrate within 24 hours. The police can simply continue to detain the ‘suspect’ for up to 28 days.
If POCA and POTA are relied on, the need to produce before a Magistrate within 24 hours is still there, but if POCA is going to be used, then they can get a remand order for 21 days.
Magistrate’s ability to evaluate the reasonableness of further remand and for how long is completely removed by the police using SOSMA, POCA and/or POTA.
Depriving the Innocent Of Employment And Income Is Wrong
For workers, this prolonged detention in remand, means possible loss of employment. Workers may have to utilize their limited annual leave, and when that is over, some employers may allow for unpaid leave but others may simply dismiss the worker.
For the self-employed or in small business, this detention results in a loss of income which will seriously impact the well-being of their families and dependents, even children. Malaysia, at the moment, still do not have a criminal compensation scheme that would compensate detention of the innocent, being those that ultimately are not charged in court and/or found guilty after a fair trial.
Denied Fait Trial and subjected to administrative detention/restriction
For the Detention Without Trial laws like POCA and POTA, it is even more unjust – as the reasons used for the Detention/Restrictions imposed still cannot be challenged in court. It is most disappointing that this new Pakatan Harapan government, who has so many leaders, who had been in the past personally been victims, or a family members of victims of such draconian Detention Without Trial laws, today takes the position that these laws can be still used.
The PH government should have immediately released all in Detention/Restriction under Detention Without Trial Laws but sadly, the government has been silent. Repealing such laws was a promise but then we have heard little about this.
Sufficient Laws Available Without Having to Resort to Draconian Unjust Laws
Following the incident at a temple in Selangor, which saw many arrests, the PH government seem to have abandoned its principles, and is resorting to use that very same bad laws that they wanted to get rid of.
There are sufficient laws available in Malaysia, and as such there is really no need to resort to these draconian laws, which we all know is unjust, and ought to be speedily repealed.
MADPET is disappointed with the procrastination of the Pakatan Harapan government in repealing these bad laws and/or provisions in law. The principle that no one should be presumed guilty until they have been tried and convicted after a fair trial, is something the government must never forget and always practice.
MADPET urges the Malaysian government to be strong and committed to justice, and re-impose the moratorium on the usage of these draconian laws including the Sedition Act 1948, Section 263, 233 and such vague provisions of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA); Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA); The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA);
MADPET calls on the government of Malaysia to immediately repeal all bad draconian laws, given that almost 7 months have passed since the new government came into being;
MADPET calls on the Attorney General to expedite the preparation of the required Bills for the repeal of draconian laws, and to advice the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to not backtrack or use these bad laws pending repeal;
MADPET calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently still being detained and/or restricted under Detention Without Trial laws;
MADPET urges the government to not use SOSMA or the Detention Without Trial laws, which oust the ability and powers of the Magistrate and/or Courts to effectively ensure that the police and/or government do not abuse their powers, especially in the detention of mere suspects, not even accused persons, for long durations;
MADPET urges the government to demonstrate care for families especially children, whose parent suffers the risk of loss of employment and/or income due to detention for a long period. The government should ensure suspects in prolonged detention do not lose their employment, and possibly ensure that they be fully paid by employers during such police and/or government detention;
MADPET urges the government to enact a law that provides for compensation for loss of liberty, for persons detained who never are charged and/or convicted. It is wrong to deny an innocent person their liberty and means of earning and not compensate them.
MADPET urges the government to adhere to its promises to uphold the cause of justice, human rights and the rule of law;
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Cabinet scraps death sentence for 33 offences
Published 11 hours ago on 13 November 2018
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — The Cabinet has decided that the death penalty for 33 offences under eight acts of law be abolished, and this includes Section 302 of the Penal Code (murder), said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
He said the decision, which was reached collectively, also encompassed the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act 1971; Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972.
Also in the list are the Water Services Industries Act 2006; Strategic Trade Act 2010 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
"Following the Cabinet decision, a Cabinet memorandum has been circulated to the relevant ministries for their comments and to get public feedback on it,” he said during the Question-and Answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was replying to a question from Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) who wanted to know the government’s position on abolishing the death penalty, whether there will be exceptions for extremely cruel crimes,
Meanwhile, Liew also told the House that the bill on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) was expected to be tabled at the next sitting of Parliament after all issues and polices were finalised.
He said follow-up meetings on the setting up of the IPCMC had agreed that it should be truly independent, effective and have the powers to tackle problems involving the police force.
"The framework takes into consideration powers that are more holistic and in line with existing laws and are currently in force,” he said when replying to a question from Maria Chin Abdullah (PH-Petaling Jaya).
Liew said the police’s rights would also be assured as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
In September, the government had announced the setting up of the IPCMC to replace the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC). — Bernama - Malay Mail, 13/11/2018
Saturday, November 03, 2018
Media Statement – 3/11/2018
MALAYSIA, MAKE US PROUD AT UPCOMING UPR ON 8 NOVEMBER 2018 BY DEMONSTRATING NEW GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS, JUSTICE AND RULE OF LAW
-Abolish Death Penalty, Repeal Detention Without Trial Laws, Repeal SOSMA, Sedition Act,…-
Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review(UPR) in Geneva will happen during the session beginning on 8 November 2018, which MADPET(Malaysian Against Death Penalty and Torture) and possibly many others will see Malaysia, under a new PH government, being more open and ready to accept recommendations, and make positive commitments, even agreements, to ensure greater human rights, justice and Rule of Law in Malaysia.
The Universal Periodic Review(UPR) is a process where Malaysia’s human rights record will be reviewed by other UN member states, who will also make recommendations on what Malaysia should do to improve its state of human rights, justice and rule of law.
The UPR process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, also gives opportunities to Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society an opportunity to submit reports, arguments and even recommendations. Many, including MADPET, would have done so and tried to lobby other countries to highlight human rights failings, to urge Malaysia to be more committed to human rights and Rule of Law in accordance to universal standards.
Now, this UPR process leading to the actual face to face session of review of Malaysia in a few days, began when Malaysia was then governed by the previous Barisan Nasional(BN) government that obviously had little regard to human rights, justice and rule of law.
Malaysia, in the past, has even avoided ratifying or being a signatory to many of the fundamental UN human rights convention.
CORE HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS THAT MALAYSIA YET TO RATIFY
Being a member of the United Nations, Malaysia accepts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), but to date have failed to ratify or sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(CCPR), International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights(CESR). Without the ratification/signing of the CCPR and CESR, there is really not a clear proclaimed commitment to the principles of human rights found in the UDHR.
Now, that Malaysia has decided on the abolition of the death penalty, there is also no more reason for Malaysia not to ratify/sign the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aiming Towards the Abolition of the Death Penalty(CCPR-OP2-DP);
Malaysia has also yet to ratify important UN Conventions like the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment(CAT) and the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture; Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance(CED); International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families(CMW)
To date, Malaysia has only signed on very few of the fundamental human rights convention being the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination on Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child(CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(CRPD). Malaysia also ratified/signed certain Optional Protocols relating to the Rights of the Child.
Many a country has ratified many Human Rights Conventions and/or Treaties, but alas have failed to practice what they have agreed to. It is a basic principle of international law that a State party to an international treaty must ensure that its own domestic law and practice are consistent with what is required by the treaty.
ONCE RATIFIED/SIGNED, UN CONVENTIONS MUST BECOME PART OF MALAYSIAN LAW IMMEDIATELY
In some countries, once it is ratified at the international level, the Convention may automatically form part of national law. In other words, the Convention would be directly enforceable by national courts and other implementing authorities.
In some other countries, the legislature might have to adopt an act of ratification at the national level. This may have the effect of incorporating the convention into domestic law.
Malaysia should pass a law that ensure that any Convention once ratified/signed, shall automatically form part of national law.
Alternatively, In Malaysia, this may be done by the tabling of a Bill in Parliament to adopt and accept the contents of the each and every Convention ratified/signed by Malaysia as part of national law. This will be more tedious as it requires separate Bills to be tabled every time a new Convention is ratified/signed.
MADPET believes this is best, compared to the old BN government practice of amending all relevant legislations to ensure compliance with the principles and contents of the Convention already ratified/signed by Malaysia.
CEDAW, for example, was ratified/signed in 1995, but the process of amending so many different legislations to make it to be in compliance with the principles and content of CEDAW has taken far too long – we are still not sure whether all relevant Malaysian law has been amended to be in line with CEDAW. Same situation with the CRC.
If however, CEDAW was incorporated into Malaysian law by an Act of Parliament, then if in court, any provision of some existing law is found not in compliance with CEDAW, judges could simply reject such laws or the use of it on grounds that it is inconsistent with CEDAW.
This adoption of a Convention as part of Malaysian law by Parliament enables our judges and courts to immediately consider the arguments that certain provisions in certain written laws and past judgments are in fact in contradiction with the relevant United Nations Conventions that Malaysia has already ratified/signed.
At the same time, existing legislation will be amended to be in compliance with the UN Convention Malaysia ratified/signed. Even if the courts later discover some provision in some law that is not consistent with a Malaysia ratified/signed UN Convention, no injustice if Malaysia has already by law made the Convention part of Malaysian law. The odd law, discovered by court, to be non-compliant could then be simply amended in the upcoming Parliamentary session.
MADPET hopes that this new Malaysian government will take the position of immediately passing laws recognising and accepting UN Conventions ratified/signed by Malaysia to be part of Malaysian law.
The UPR process commenced when Malaysia was still governed by the UMNO-BN government, and as such things would have changed under this new Pakatan Harapan-led government, under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is seen as being more committed to justice, human rights and the rule of law. There is, as such, a lesser need to push Malaysia vide recommendations and lobby, as this new alternative government would definitely do the needful to ensure that there is greater justice, human rights and rule of law in Malaysia.
The call to abolish death sentences and protect the rights of the indigenous people were the top two recommendations given to Malaysia by most United Nations members at the last UPR of Malaysia in October 2013(Malay Mail, 25/10/2013) – but following recent Cabinet decision to abolish the death penalty, and the assurance that the relevant Bills will be tabled in the current Parliamentary session that will end on 11/12/2018, UN member nations and others may likely use their limited about 3-minute intervention to make recommendations in other areas of human rights.
MADPET calls on Malaysia to take this upcoming UPR as an opportunity to commit to ratifying/signing all outstanding fundamental human rights including Convention Against Torture and the covenants to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aiming Towards the Abolition of the Death Penalty(CCPR-OP2-DP);
MADPET also calls on Malaysia to immediately put into effect the policy that ratified/signed UN Conventions are immediately made part of Malaysian law, which could be done speedily by an Act of Parliament rather than present practice of slowly amending various legislations which delays application and reliance on principles and values in Malaysia ratified/signed UN Conventions;
MADPET urges Malaysia to expedite the passing of Acts of Parliament that will abolish the death penalty, and also those draconian Detention Without Trial Laws;
MADPET also urges that the Sedition Act and other draconian provisions in laws affecting freedom of expression, opinion, media and peaceful assembly be repealed so that all in Malaysia can effectively begin to experience such human rights, which have been long denied by the former UMNO-BN regime.
MADPET urges that government will makes Malaysians proud during the UPR of Malaysia by a demonstration of the highest commitment to human rights, justice and Rule of Law.
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Friday, October 26, 2018
Malaysian Prabu, One of Possible 4, Executed By Singapore Disappointingly This Week (MADPET Media Statement)
Media Statement – 26/10/2018
Malaysian Prabu, One of Possible 4, Executed By Singapore Disappointingly This Week
Singapore should follow Malaysia in Abolishing Death Penalty as we strive for a Death Penalty free ASEAN Region.
MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is very disappointed that Singapore, which is just one of 4 countries, still conducting execution for drug offences in 2017, has on 26/10/2018 went and hanged 31 year old Malaysian, Prabu Pathmanathan.
Prabu was sentenced to death for committing several acts preparatory to and for the purposes of trafficking 227.82g of diamorphine or heroin into the island state on Dec 31, 2014.(Malaysiakini, 26/10/2018).
According to The Online Citizen(TOC) report, Prabu is just one of a possible 4 persons who were executed this week. TOC reported that ‘Ali Bin Mohamad Bahashwan was executed alongside his co-accused Selamat Bin Paki on Wednesday afternoon (24 October 2018)…. Irwan Ali, a Singaporean, is the other inmate who is set to be executed this Friday…’(TOC, 26/10/2018)
The Singapore Prison Service 2017 annual report showed eight people were executed in 2017, up from four in 2016. Actual statistics of executions carried out in 2018 cannot be confirmed, as Singapore continuous be ‘secretive’ and not transparent with such data. It is believed that there may have already been about 8 executions to date in 2018.
Many a time in Singapore, one becomes aware of upcoming executions, only when immediate family is informed days before, take the trouble to inform anti-death penalty advocates and groups.
The death sentence is provided for drug-related crimes in about 15 countries, but according to Amnesty International only four countries recorded drug offence executions in 2017 – Singapore, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China.(South China Morning Post/SCMP, 26/10/2018)
In reality, the majority of those executed for drug trafficking will not be “kingpins” but are just low-level offenders.
Many may have been driven to crime by reasons of poverty, which really highlights a failure of governments in ensuring the wellbeing and livelihood of its people. Singapore, Malaysia and other States must really look into the link of poverty to crime, and maybe the solution to crime reduction a maybe a caring government policy that will ensure that no one will ever needs to resort to crime out of desperation for the wellbeing of themselves and their families.
Singapore also need to strive to become a more caring and civilized nation, and do away with this archaic ‘death penalty’ just like neighbouring Malaysia, who has already made the decision to totally abolish the death penalty. In Malaysia, the necessary Bills will be tabled at this current Parliamentary Session, that will give effect to the Cabinet decision to abolish the Death Penalty.
MADPET calls on Singapore to follow neighbouring Malaysia and abolish the death penalty, as we strive forward for a more caring and civilized ASEAN where there is no more Death Penalty and Torture.
MADPET also calls on Malaysia to immediately identify Malaysians on death row at risk of being executed in Singapore prisons, and proactively act now to save them from being executed by Singapore. This is a priority, as knowledge about impending executions only come to light at the eleventh hour, and that too in only certain cases.
MADPET further calls on Singapore to impose a moratorium on executions, and abolish the death penalty’
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
4 executions set to take place within a span of 48 hours in Singapore — including one on Wednesday morning.
Ariffin Sha 2018-10-24 Current Affairs
Update (1.01pm on 26 October 2018) - TOC understands that the total number of executions this week stands at 4 and not 3, as reported earlier. It has come to our attention that Ali Bin Mohamad Bahashwan was executed alongside his co-accused Selamat Bin Paki on Wednesday afternoon (24 October 2018). As a result of the lack of official data and statistics regarding executions, we had to take some time to verify and confirm this information before publishing this update. Prabu and Irwan were executed earlier today at 6am. Full story here.
While the newly elected Pakatan Harapan Government prepares to abolish the death penalty and ramps up its efforts to save the lives of Malaysians who are on death row abroad, their counterparts across the causeway seem to be hellbent on what can only be described as an unprecedented and vicious rampage.
Traditionally, executions in Singapore only take place at dawn on Friday. The only exception in recent history is the case of Kho Jabing who was originally set to be executed on Friday morning but was hung on Friday afternoon instead owing to an eleventh-hour appeal which was heard dismissed on the morning of his execution. Following Jabing's execution, the time between an inmate's execution and the time an inmate's family will be notified of the execution decreased from two weeks to just one week.
This week, Singapore is set to execute no less than four inmates in a span of just 48 hours. Earlier today (24 October 2018), Selamat Bin Paki and his co-accused Ali Bin Mohamad Bahashwan were executed. This is the first time that an inmate is being executed on a Wednesday. Another two executions are slated for this Friday (26 October 2018). The family of Prabu N Pathmanathan, a 31 year-old Malaysian national who is set to be executed this Friday, was only notified of his execution date on 20 October 2018 according to a report from Malaysiakini. Irwan Ali, a Singaporean, is the other inmate who is set to be executed this Friday.
As executions are not announced publicly, activists and lawyers face a hard time trying to find out the execution dates of inmates. The short time between when the families are notified and when the executions take place also make it hard to arrange for family members, especially those who live overseas and may not be able to afford to travel to Singapore, to spend some time with the inmate during his/her final days and hours. Prior to the case of Jabing, activists and lawyers also operated under the assumption that if one could get an execution stayed, the inmate would not be hung until the following Friday morning - giving more time for the family to prepare for the execution and legal recourse, if any. However, the "rush" to execute Jabing following the dismissal of his criminal motion throws all of those assumptions, which were once widely accepted as conventions surrounding execution by all parties, out of the window. Kirsten Han, an anti-death penalty activist from Singapore, summarises the bleak situation in the following words:
"It is shocking to hear about a hanging taking place on a Wednesday, departing from years of precedent where executions took place at 6am on Fridays. Although it’s awful to hang people on any day of the week, this move away from the prison’s usual practice means that the little that we know about capital punishment in Singapore might no longer be true, making the death penalty regime even more opaque and unaccountable to the public than before.
We have also noticed that the time between the rejection of a clemency appeal and the scheduling of an execution has been reduced, which means families also have less time to mentally and emotionally prepare themselves." - Kirsten Han, Second Chances
In addition to the lack of rigidity surrounding the conventions governing the process of execution, the Singapore Prisons Services and the Ministry of Home Affairs is not transparent in relation to the total number of executions per year. TOC understands that if the two executions slated for Friday are carried out, it would mean that no less than eight inmates were hung this year. This is an increase from the total number of executions in 2017 (9) and is more than twofold increase from the total number of executions in 2016, which stands at four.
M Ravi, an international human rights lawyer who has been representing clients on death row for almost 15 years now had this to say about the executions this week:
"Though we were tragically unable save Selamat Bin Paki this morning, I hope the government will take immediate steps to impose a moratorium on death penalty by staving off the two impending executions this Friday in line with what Malaysia had recently done towards abolishing the death penalty. Quite rightly, Malaysia has acknowledged that death penalty does not serve as a deterrence. Our leadership needs the courage to recognise this, put aside its ego and do the right thing."
Malaysian Law Minister Liew Vui Keong told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that he received news of Prabu's imminent execution only this morning (24 October 2018) and shared that he intends to pen a letter to the Singapore Government to halt Prabu's execution. He added that he plans to work with the Foreign Ministry on this issue. When asked what would happen if the execution were to be carried out, he replied “That will be a sad thing. I hope they won't.”
Anti-death penalty activists in Singapore will be organising a candlelight vigil for both Prabu and Irwan tomorrow evening at 7.30pm at Hong Lim Park. More information on the vigil can be found at this link.
TOC will update this article as the story develops. - TOC, 24/10/2018