Think Centre calls for Constitutional Court decision and Moratorium on death penalty

Posted by Sinapan Samydorai under Breaking News on 11 May 2005

Last Chance to Save Shanmugam Murugesu and 8 others on death-row. Shanmugam is scheduled to be hanged on Friday, 13 May 2005, less then 48 hours from now. Please act fast to save his life. Since 1991 more then 400 person were hanged. The constitutional court should look into the case and determine if Shanmugam's right of equal protection was violated.

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Singapore: Calls for immediate moratorium on the death penalty

Last Chance to Save Shanmugam Murugesu and 8 others on death-row. Shanmugam is scheduled to be hanged on Friday, 13 May 2005, less then 48 hours from now. Please act fast to save life.

Urge the President to Convene the constitutional court to find why 6 similar cases were dealt with differently. In the 6 similar cases since 2002 , traffickers caught with more than 700 g of Cannabis had their charges amended to possessing an amount to below 500gm [at the discretion of Attoney-General], the limited at which death sentences is mandatory [Misuse of drugs Act]. In 2 of the 6 cases, the traffickers were caught with more than 2 kg of cannabis and still had their capital charges reduced. The amended charges meant they escape the death penalty but were imprisoned.

Shanmugam,38, was caught for smuggling 1.029.8 g and was sentence to death by the High Court April last year.

Article 12 [1] of the Singapore Constitution guarantees equal protection and equalit for all before the law. A constitutional court should look into the case and determine if Shanmugam's right of equal protection was violated. A moratorium on death penalty or a stay of executions, pending the outcome of the constitutional court. Shanmugam's constitutional rights have violated.

When a court wrongly sentences a person to death, the result is irreversible.

The preamble of the UN Charter reminds every nation "to reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." How a state treats its own people? It depends on the political will of the government to bear and assume the responsibility of implementing the international human rights instruments, constitutional and legislative reform, national institutional building, implementation of all human rights standards and human rights education and training.

In a modern democracy, even a guided democracy, like Singapore, public opinion does count. Each person has a conscience, each person can influence public opinion, we can say no to death penalty by writing petitions and voicing our concern. Singapore constitution Article (1): All person are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

We want to promote a fair and humane system where there is justice. The laws should be just and implemented fairly with due respect for human dignity and rights. The death penalty is not acceptable and should be abolished or a moratorium called. It's ‘a cruel, inhumane and degrading" punishment. That does not give a chance for human beings to change. Such unjust and unfair laws do not correspond to the peoples desire for compassion, care and concern. Neither promote respect for human dignity nor respect for human rights.

Unfortunately, the Singapore courts do not have the power to review or re-open the case after the appeal process is exhausted. Can we say that there is a "constitutional crisis" when the court claims a person has been found procedurally guilty and sentences an innocent person to death. Taking note of the fact if the court decides wrongly the death penalty is irreversible. Surely, this will be seen as miscarriage of justice by anyone with consciences.

With due respect to the efficiency of the courts in Singapore, are we not throwing justice away, the courts are powerless to stop an innocent man from being hanged. But the elected President has the power to convene the Constitutional court. Singapore Constitution Article 100 says "The President may refer to a tribunal consisting of not less than 3 judges of the Singapore court for its opinion any question as to the effect of any provision of this Constitution which has arise or appears likely to arise."

Laws are not static; it has to be relevant and appropriate, as societal values and morals change. Today, people are more informed of their rights and international standards, participate in local governance and decision that impact their life. We are consciences that the death penalty is a ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading" punishment, and it should not be applied in any circumstances. Today, many will not view "simple possession" of drugs deserve to be punished administrative with death penalty and no person should be presume guilty before the due process is exhausted.

Shanmugam Murugesu is facing the death sentence. Is it fair and just? Is it fair and just to presume a person guilty from the moment of arrest? Are there loopholes in the Misuse of Drugs Act that could result in the execution of an innocent person? Will the President Convene the Constitutional Court?

The death penalty is an act of vengeance that is detrimental to building a civilized society, and demeaning to all of us as citizens. Based on numerous studies, Criminologists agree that the death penalty has no deterrence value. Why then sentences a man to hang for possession of drugs? Is death penalty consistent and appropriate for possession of drugs?

Let us rise above our feelings of fear and vengeance to seek solutions to drug trafficking and crimes that reflect human dignity and promote justice for all. We call on our government, the members of parliament, to abandon the use of death penalty.

In the interim, Think Centre calls for the moratorium on the death penalty as fair and just regarding the death penalty. It gives a chance to re-examine both the purpose of the penalty and its perceived effectiveness, and can save the lives of the condemned.

A sentence of life in prison for the most serious offenses would keep us just as safe. We could offer more help and guidance to troubled kids before they turn to drugs and crime. Instead of investing foolishly in vengeance, we ought to be investing wisely in humanity and human dignity.

Death penalty is a practice from the past like torture and slavery which must be rejected by all decent human beings. The death penalty is a inhumane, cruel and degrading punishment. The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights. Since 1991, the government had hanged to death more then 400 human

I wanted to change and turn a new leaf, they did not give me any chances

Zulfikar bin Mustaffah was executed on 28 Sep 2001
These last words were addressed to his sister.

"What we've said is true, would they want to believe us? Would they help us? Or would they take it into consideration? … Maybe what I've heard is true, it's only a routine. You've got to write and the only result is dismissed with no comment. And how many of us had same fate, been given the pardon? Well they have all the power to do this. We only have the ability to pray and pray, nothing change."

"Through the experience they do know that the drugs comes from a neighbouring country… and didn't want to know to whom the drugs belongs, as long as they arrest you with the drugs or within your premises. They get rewarded from the arrests or promoted. They don't bother either you're innocent or telling the truth and didn't make any investigation… Is this fair? Where are our rights?"

"I wanted to look for a job, they passed by me and stop me. I'd told them that I am going for an interview, they don't take my words and never even bother…they stop you whenever they want! They just take you away when they want to! And they will let you go if they wanted to! They take away your rights! They are very mean in their uniforms and status!

"I wanted to change and turn a new leaf, they did not give me any chances…. Company's turned me down, they don't want to accept me because of my previous convictions. How am I going to make a living? How am I going to make changes?"

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Think Centre: Reaffirms Call for Moratorium on executions

The death penalty is a "cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment."

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