The Singaporean government should halt the imminent execution of Kho Jabing and commute his death sentence, said the ICJ today.
In 2010, Kho Jabing was convicted and sentenced to death, after having been found guilty of murder.
Amendments made to its laws on the death penalty in 2012 allowed for persons who had been subjected to the death penalty the option to elect to be considered for re-sentencing under the new rules.
Kho Jabing, under this process, was re-sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.
The prosecution, however, appealed the re-sentencing, and the case was brought to the Court of Appeal.
On 14 January 2015, the Court of Appeal decided to reinstate the death penalty in the case.
Kho Jabing filed a clemency appeal and the Court of Appeal rejected this on 19 October 2015.
The authorities have not released the date of Kho Jabing’s execution, but it is believed that he is likely to be executed during the first week of November 2015.
“Singapore has obscured the extent and nature of its execution practices and its record on respect for the right to life”, said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
“Failure to be transparent about its use of the death penalty, flies in the face of international human rights standards,” he added.
The ICJ opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and considers the imposition of the death penalty to constitute a denial of the right to life and a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
The view that the death penalty is never justifiable is shared by the overwhelming majority of States, United Nations institutions, and numerous civil society organizations.
In December 2014, the UN General Assembly, by a very wide majority, adopted a Resolution repeating its call for all States retaining the death penalty to institute a moratorium on the practice, with a view to abolition.
The ICJ has also received information that Singapore carried out two executions in October 2015. The authorities, however, have not issued an official statement regarding these executions.
To date, the Singapore government has not released the exact number of executions undertaken in the country.
In 2004, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions emphasized the importance of transparency wherever the death penalty is applied.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur, “Secrecy as to those executed violates human rights standards.”
In addition, a “full and accurate reporting of all executions should be published, and a consolidated version prepared on at least an annual basis.”
The ICJ calls on the Singapore government:
- to stop the execution of Kho Jabing and commute his sentence, to one that does not include caning, which constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment
- to institute an immediate moratorium on executions
- to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty in law
- to make public a full and accurate report of all executions in the country
Emerlynne Gil, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, (Bangkok), t: +66840923575, e: emerlynne.gil(a)icj.org