Skip to main content arrow-down arrow-tail-right arrow-triangle-right calendar camera compass download email eye facebook flag mail phone pin play send square-right tag twitter youtube badge message

DPP Welcomes Singapore Plan to Restrict the Death Penalty

  • News
  • 10 Jul 2012

The Government of Singapore is to abolish the mandatory imposition of the death penalty for certain offences – following a review that was partly shaped by a pair of London human rights lawyers.

Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar run the Death Penalty Project (DPP), which has assisted an influential Singapore lawyer in mounting a number of important constitutional legal challenges to the death penalty.

This week’s statement from the Singapore government says that the legislation will be introduced later this year – and that until then there will be a moratorium on executions.

Up to now, the death penalty has been automatically imposed on all people convicted of murder and other offences, such as drug trafficking. Members of the judiciary have had no discretion, with the death penalty being the only available sentence, irrespective of all extenuating circumstances.

We welcome this development which will bring Singapore closer in line with many other countries that have in recent years abolished the mandatory death sentence,’ said Mr Lehrfreund and Mr Jabbar, executive directors of the DPP. They added: ‘While this is a positive move in the right direction, mandatory death sentences are prohibited by international law and, as such, the Government of Singapore will need to abolish it altogether, so judges will have the power to dispense discretion in all cases.’

In recent years, the Death Penalty Project, together with Doughty Street Chambers, has assisted Singapore lawyer M. Ravi in a number of cases, including a challenge to the mandatory imposition of the death penalty in the case of Yong Vui Kong. Mr Yong, who is now 24, was convicted of drug trafficking in the High Court of Singapore and was sentenced to death in 2008. He had admitted at trial that he was a drug courier and was convicted of trafficking 47.27 grams of diamorphine. He was 19 years old at the time he was charged and had no previous criminal record, yet the judge had no option but to impose the mandatory death sentence.

Even though the legal challenge to the mandatory death penalty did not succeed, this litigation has played a vital role in bringing the issue of the mandatory death penalty to the fore, leading to the proposed legal reforms.

The Government has now indicated it will take the necessary steps to abolish the mandatory death penalty for some categories of drug trafficking offences and homicide offences, although not for crimes of deliberate or intentional murder. All accused people – and those presently under sentence of death who meet the necessary requirements – will be re-sentenced under the new law.  Mr Yong, who faces imminent execution, will now have the opportunity (along with other death row prisoners) to seek a review of his death sentence, potentially saving his life.

 

About the Death Penalty Project

The Death Penalty Project is an independent international human rights organisation housed in the offices of Soho legal firm Simons Muirhead & Burton.

For more than 20 years, the Death Penalty Project has worked to protect the human rights of those facing the death penalty. As a result of its work, the mandatory death penalty has been abolished in ten Commonwealth Caribbean countries as well as Uganda, Kenya and Malawi, and the lives of hundreds of prisoners facing execution have been saved.

In the case of Yong Vui Kong, the Death Penalty Project instructed Edward Fitzgerald QC, John Jones and Ben Silverstone from Doughty Street Chambers, on a pro bonobasis.

For further press information, please contact: Annette So on (+44) 203 206 2748

Latest news

Malaysian man has death sentence quashed as judgment in Singapore makes judicial history
Read More
British national received 24 strokes of the cane for drug offences in Singapore
Read More
New report finds Zimbabwean opinion leaders support abolition of the death penalty
Read More
Privy Council overturns murder conviction of unrepresented man who faced the death penalty in The Bahamas
Read More
Report on the views of opinion leaders on the reasons why the death penalty has not been abolished in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados
Read More
Second Execution in Taiwan under President Tsai: Huge step backwards to Taiwan’s commitment to abolish the death penalty
Read More
UK Supreme Court finds Government’s decision to provide information to the United States to facilitate prosecution for crimes carrying the death penalty unlawful
Read More
Inter-American Commission urges retentionist member states within the OAS to eliminate the death penalty
Read More
Contradictions in Judicial Support for Capital Punishment in India and Bangladesh: Utilitarian Rationales
Read More
Indonesia: Build evidence-based policies on drugs and punishment
Read More
Capital sentencing and judicial attitudes towards the death penalty in India and Bangladesh
Read More
Press Release: The Death Penalty and Illegal Executions in Saudi Arabia
Read More
The Death Penalty and Executions in Saudi Arabia
Read More
Compounded Violence: Domestic Abuse and the Mandatory Death Penalty in Ghana and Sierra Leone
Read More
Delegation to Guyana on Sentencing in Capital Cases
Read More
Aron John, former death row prisoner, regains freedom after 16 years in prison in Malawi
Read More

Stay up-to-date with our work