The ICJ called on the Government of Singapore to halt the impending execution of Hishamrudin bin Mohd, and take immediate steps to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view towards the abolition of the death penalty in the near future.
Hishamrudin bin Mohd, a Singaporean national, was sentenced to death in 2016, under mandatory sentencing laws, after being convicted of possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking.
His execution is scheduled to take place on 16 March 2018.
The ICJ opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a denial of the right to life and a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
“Singapore, as this year’s Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, must use this opportunity to lead the way in the region in recognizing that the death penalty is inherently incompatible with human dignity and a violation of human rights,” Sam Zarifi, ICJ Secretary General said.
“Singapore should set an example to other ASEAN Member States in upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights,” he added.
Furthermore, the ICJ expressed serious concern that Singapore still applies the mandatory death penalty, including for drug offenses which, according to international standards does not the meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” to which the death penalty must be confined.
“States that have not yet abolished the death penalty should never apply them for drug offenses nor make them automatic,” Zarifi said.
The UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have stated that under no circumstances should death penalty be mandatory.
International human rights law is undermined when mandatory death penalty is imposed since sentencing must reflect assessment of the factors in each case to ensure that the defendant’s human rights and the narrow limits on the use of death penalty have been respected.
The ICJ notes that the UN General Assembly has adopted repeated resolutions with the support of the overwhelming majority of States, most recently in December 2016 calling for an international moratorium on the use of death penalty with a view to abolition.
Presently, some 170 States around the world have either abolished the death penalty or put a moratorium to its use.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasized that “the death penalty has no place in the 21st century.”
Emerlynne Gil, Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, t: +662 619 8477 (ext. 206); e: emerlynne.gil(a)icj.org
Hishamrudin bin Mohd, a Singaporean national, was found guilty of possessing 34.94 grams of diamorphine, allegedly for the purpose of trafficking. His appeal was rejected on 3 July 2017 and his execution was scheduled on 16 March 2018.
The ICJ received information that Hishamrudin bin Mohd filed a last-minute application for judicial review on 12 March 2018 and a closed-door hearing was set on 14 March 2018. However, on 15 March 2018, the Court of Appeal denied his appeal.