Execution of Kho Jabing: Abolish capital punishment, urges Suaram

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Graphic: amnestyusa.org

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) strongly condemns the execution of Kho Jabing by the government of Singapore on 20 May 2016.

Despite the unanswered concerns regarding the impartiality of the appeal proceedings, the government of Singapore 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 20 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 19 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 about the importance of the notion that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. The failure to ensure justice was done in this case will tarnish Singapore’s ability to provide a fair trial for those seeking justice in its legal system.

Further, the doubt as to whether the prosecution had adequately proven the necessary measure for Kho Jabing’s act to be tantamount to murder, as 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 recognised international norms where capital punishment can only be imposed when the crime meets the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’.

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In the light of these concerns, the refusal to provide for a stay of execution and the apathy shown by government of Singapore with regard 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 remains a facet of its criminal justice system clearly show its disinclination to join the ranks of developed countries with regard to its recognition of human rights.

Suaram reiterates our stance that the use of capital punishment must be abolished and calls upon governments which still endorses the use of capital punishment to re-examine its use and instate a moratorium on it immediately!

Sevan Doraisamy is executive director of Suaram.

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